West Cocalico bridge back in business

By on June 13, 2018

The Sportsman Road Bridge over Sportsman Road near the Cocalico Sportsmen’s Association is finally open and back in good condition.

Last year, supervisors were pondering how to fix the bridge, which had been determined to be deficient by the state. In monthly meetings, the board questioned whether to take out new debt to improve the bridge, while drivers used the middle of the bridge to avoid putting too much stress on old and weakened steel. Then Ray Burns, who had been active in discussing the project, suddenly left the board to move out of the area and was replaced by Jeff Sauder.

As recently as early this year, the board was still talking in abstract terms about the bridge fix, wondering when the project could be bid, and when work could begin. Stoner talked about getting proactive and getting ahead of infrastructure fixes through smart borrowing, but no concrete timeline emerged until Lancaster County started to thaw out from winter.

This spring, though, things moved quickly. The project was bid, and with the help of engineering firm Rettew, a plan was put together. Sportsman Road Bridge was closed to traffic April 16. Contractors put in new steel beams and poured concrete and the bridge was re-opened May 24.

In the June 7 supervisor’s meeting, the board announced that the bridge is once again open for business. The total cost, said chairman James J. Stoner, was $127,000 — that’s $6,000 less than the projected cost of $133,000.

The township also got a good interest rate, as supervisors had anticipated. In comments June 8, township manager Carolyn Hildebrand said working through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank, West Cocalico got a 2.125 percent interest rate that’s only offered for special types of projects.

“I think they did a great job,” Stoner said, suggesting the township will get decades of use out of the bridge in its current incarnation.

“Everything looked good at the job site,” said roadmaster Ton Showalter. “I think everything’s in good shape.”

Now, though, the township has a new bridge to deal with — recently, township workers saw that a steel beam on the Mill Road Bridge had shifted, dropping concrete.

For now, Hildebrand told the Ephrata Review, an engineer has signed off on use of the bridge after installing metal plates. Still, she said, that’s not a long-term fix.

“It’s going to take a while,” she said, citing the engineering and bid process.

Looking at the monthly police report from the Ephrata Police Department later in their June 7 meeting, supervisors also discussed how to deal with fireworks on this upcoming fourth of July season.

Stoner said he has already gotten some calls about loud and potentially unsafe fireworks.

“I know it’s going to come up,” Stoner said.

Ephrata Police Lt. Tom Shumaker said the local force will try to deal with the most egregious fireworks issues on the day of July 4, while recognizing that the police can’t handle every single call or complaint.

“If it’s an unreasonable hour or a dangerous situation, we’ll address it,” Shumaker said.

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