West Mt. Airy residents and members of the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch are preparing for another round of noisy construction and detours as plans for the reconstruction of the Allens Lane Bridge are finally getting underway.
The Town Watch group met with PennDOT Project Manager Mike Holva and TranSystems designer and consultant Mike Cuddy last week to discuss current plans to demolish and rebuild the dilapidated bridge that runs above SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West regional rail line.
The project comes nearly four years after renovation of SEPTA’s Allen Lane train station concluded.Cuddy insists that while the more than 100-year-old Allens Lane Bridge has been deemed structurally deficient, it is safe enough to withstand traffic until reconstruction begins.
“We do have deterioration on the deck; there are parts of it that are falling away. This is really what’s prompting everybody to move quicker here,” he said. “But it is still safe. It gets checked on a regular basis. But it has reached the end of its useful life.”
According to Cuddy, the new bridge will have some height and length adjustments to meet current standards. The new bridge will be about 10 feet longer on each side, and the existing vertical clearance above the train tracks will be extended from a 17-feet 6-inch clearance to an 18-feet 6-inch clearance. The span of the sidewalks and the roadway on the bridge will remain the same.
While the bridge construction will not disrupt service of the regional rail line, it may however, cause delays for area drivers. During construction, drivers will be detoured around Allens Lane via Lincoln Drive, Wayne Avenue, Washington Lane, and Germantown Ave.
Aside from traffic changes, the other more obvious inconvenience of a construction project such as this one is the noise.
Some residents are not looking forward to it, while others say they’re just grateful that the bridge is finally being fixed.
“I don’t have a car, so it’s not the same issue for me as much as it is for others. I am concerned because I remember the noise from the construction before. It was disruptive,” West Mt. Airy resident Lynne Schleifer said.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this. I’ll just be glad to see it done,” West Mt. Airy Resident Carol Davis said.
Mary Ann Domanska will likely endure the brunt of the commotion during construction of the bridge. Domanska lives right next door. She says she’s excited about the new bridge and thinks the final product will be well worth the wait and the temporary inconvenience.
“I believe PennDOT will make the best bridge that will fit in both historically and aesthetically with the neighborhood,” she said. “I guess we’ll buy some ear plugs. We’ve been through this before. We may have some sleepless nights but it’ll be worth it in the end.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016 and is expected to take one year to complete.