Route 926 Bridge project set for next year

After at least 14 years of delays, the Route 926 Bridge replacement project is set to begin in 2017, two years after the last time it was scheduled.

If the project goes as planned, the total job will take a year, but detours will last only six months and access to businesses in the area of the bridge will be kept open.

That was the information coming from Frank Eells, an engineer with Gannett Fleming, the consulting firm working with PennDOT on the project. Eells — the consulting project manager — was the primary speaker at a public meeting Wednesday night at Pocopson Elementary School. Other consultants and PennDOT representatives were also on hand to answer questions.

Pennsbury's Lynn Luft examines a chart showing the timeline for the work.

Pennsbury's Lynn Luft examines a chart showing the timeline for the work.

According to Eells, the project start date is “solid for next spring.”

Eells said the project itself is the same as was presented at a similar meeting in May of 2014. Approaches to the bridge — on both the Pocopson and Birmingham Township side — will be raised to prevent them from flooding when the Brandywine Creek spills its banks; two new culverts will be installed over Radley Run; and a stretch of Creek Road, north of Route 926, will be realigned.

What’s different this time is the length of time the roads will be closed. The original idea was to have the overpass closed for 18 months. That was later adjusted to a year, but pushback from the school district and from state Rep. Stephen Barrar resulted in a decrease to nine months. Now it’s down to six months. The work schedule is set to be 10 hours per day, six days per week.

A map shows the area of construction. The large green area is the Brandywine Creek. The smaller green area is Radley Run.

A map shows the area of construction. The large green area is the Brandywine Creek. The smaller green area is Radley Run.

Eells said the contract would include penalties, which he didn’t specify except to say they were “very high,” for every day the job takes beyond the projected end date.

He said bids on the project would be sent out in September, and the contract awarded within two months after that. Work would begin next February with a traffic light installed at Route 52 and Pocopson Road.

Once that light is installed and working, approaches to the Route 926 Bridge would be closed and construction would begin. That portion is expected to take about four months, Eells said. When that’s finished, the Creek Road/Route 926 intersection would be closed for two months so Creek Road could be re-aligned and the culverts installed.

Eells said the roads should re-open about Labor Day of next year.

Barrar said that was “great news,” while Bob Cochran, business manager for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, was also pleased.

“That minimizes our disruption for transportation,” Cochran said.

The official detour will take traffic around the area through Routes 52, 202 and 1. Many residents questioned how well that would work, saying people would find their own way through the construction area. As has been the concern for years, questions arose regarding what would happen if an accident or other traffic problem would shut down the Route 52 Bridge.

While neither Eells nor any of the other representatives could give a specific answer to that, Eells did say the contractor would have the ability to re-time traffic lights at the signaled intersections in the area to help traffic flow if necessary.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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