PennDOT held an informational meeting on Wednesday in the Towamensing municipal building to talk to residents about the two bridges that will be worked on. They are both along Penn Forest Road with one, the southern bridge, in Towamensing Township and the northern one in Penn Forest Township.

The southern bridge, the larger one at 53 feet, is between the Penn Forest and Wild Creek reservoirs. This bridge is scheduled for complete replacement.

The northern bridge has a 25-foot span and is near the junction of Penn Forest Road with Reservoir and Hell Hollow roads. Only the deck and beams will be replaced.

PennDOT representative Todd Smeltz said the bridges were found to be structurally deficient during inspections. A bridge of the same type south of Pittsburgh collapsed.

They are adjacent box beam bridges and the deck is not connected to the beams. Corrosion has been found in the beams.

Smeltz said PennDOT is working on an accelerated bridge program and wants to replace or repair those that are structurally deficient.

The plan is to bid the work on the frst bridge in September 2010 and the work is to follow in 2011. The second one is scheduled to be bid in 2011 and worked on in 2012. However, there is a possibility of combining the two in expectation of a better bid and, if a contractor can schedule the work on both in 2011, to have the road closed only once.

Matt Hickson, also from PennDOT, said the northern bridge will have 3-feet 6-inch barrier sides. He said the decks had a lot of moisture damage.

Both the new bridge and the repaired one will be concrete structures.

The Penn Forest bridge will take three to four months of work to repair and the southern bridge in Towamensing will take four to six months to replace.

The area between the bridges will be landlocked if they are worked on concurrently but there are no homes on Penn Forest Road and none known on Forest Street which would not need the exit to Penn Forest Road. A traffic study found there were an average of 378 cars per day that use the road.

Work will be during summer months so there will be no detour in winter. Some of the people attending were concerned about access during hunting season but that will be affected.

The detour is 20 miles along Hell Hollow Road which is gravel. When paved roads are reached in Polk Township, there are several sharp corners.

Smeltz heard concerns about whether the corrugated metal pipes under the gravel road would be strong enough for trucks. A note was made for the engineers' consideration.