For the next two years, Lower Bucks County commuters will have to detour around Route 213’s Maple Avenue bridge over Neshaminy Creek.
The work was supposed to start today, but a temporary traffic signal got delayed so work will begin July 21st. From then on, the bridge will be shut down for razing and reconstruction work expected to continue through October 2016.
Two years is about the usual amount of time it takes to build a concrete bridge of this size from scratch, said Charles Metzger, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
“There’s no part of the old bridge we can use,” said Metzger. “We’re building all new piers, building a new concrete arch, building new sidewalls – everything on the bridge is going to be new. It takes time to have all this stuff constructed.”
The bridge normally handles about 10,000 vehicles per day. Traffic will be rerouted several miles via Old Lincoln Highway, Brownsville Road, and Bridgetown Pike. Those temporary traffic signals will be placed at detour intersections to help smooth traffic flow.
Lower Southampton Police Chief William Wiegman expects only modest delays of 10 to 15 minutes.
“It’s probably going to cause some frayed nerves in the initial couple of days that it starts,” said Wiegman. “We’ll make adjustments, and the people themselves usually make them after one or two days.”
Wiegman said that his department will monitor the traffic for a few days to see if adjustments need to be made.
The existing Maple Avenue bridge was built in 1929.
The new bridge will cost $7.3 million, part of Pennsylvania’s $2.1 billion transportation improvement plan announced last year.
In addition to the bridge, a roundabout will be built at the intersection of Route 213 and Bridgetown Pike to alleviate a hairpin turn there.
Following the completion of the Maple Avenue bridge work, Wiegman said the Brownsville Road bridge will be closed for two years, bringing the total years of construction in the area to four.
PennDOT spokesman Metzger would not confirm plans for the second project.