PennDOT wants to alter Weissport railroad crossing
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Motorists traveling to and from Lehighton will be stuck in a new traffic pattern during the rehabilitation of the Route 209 Thomas McCall Memorial Bridge next year. Two lanes will be traveling the same direction as the car in the photograph at the Norfolk Southern Railway crossing from Franklin Township to Weissport.
Weissport Council on Monday discussed the new traffic pattern that will impact Weissport residents and other motorists traveling to and from Lehighton when the Route 209 Thomas McCall Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project is under way in 2014.
Gene Kershner, president, read from a letter from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has applied for approval to temporarily alter the public at grade railroad crossing by detouring traffic in one direction where the Route 2010 Bridge Street crosses one track of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company in Weissport.
The PUC will hold a field investigation and conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the site of the crossing.
"The train will continue to use the crossing," noted Jonathan Troutman, mayor of Weissport. "There is really nothing that we can do or say about it."
Rehabilitation of the bridge is anticipated to take place next year and will involve a complex detour route.
The $10-million to $11-million project involves a structural rehabilitation of the 16-span structure, which carries Route 209 traffic across the Lehigh River, Lehigh Canal, Norfolk Southern Railroad and other local roads. The purpose of the project is to remove the bridge from the list of structurally-deficient bridges, keep it from needing to be weight restricted, and extend the service life.
The structural rehabilitation is anticipated to include: deck repairs, new latex modified concrete overlay on the existing deck, new integral approach slabs at each end of the bridge, replacement of all 17 deck joints, place new protective fence along both barriers, replace existing drainage scuppers and new downspout systems.
The superstructure repairs include cleaning and repainting the entire superstructure, stiffening gusset plates in the truss spans, adding floor beam cover plates and girder stiffeners to increase capacity. Substructure repairs include replace/rehabilitate bearings, repair deteriorated concrete on piers and abutments, and reconstruct pier 4, and place scout protection at piers 2 and 3.
The bridge project is expected to be put out for bid sometime this year and by the end of this year, the bid should be accepted and work should begin in early 2014.
Temporary traffic patterns are expected to last three to four months. During that time, Weissport traffic on Bridge Street will be one way for the entire two lanes.
The Route 209 bridge is a principal arterial roadway in an urban area and carries 23,000 vehicles a day through the project area. The existing bridge accommodates two 11-foot by six-inch lanes of traffic and an additional 11-foot "left turn lane" at each end. The bridge also carries a five-foot, two-inch sidewalk on the north side.
The sidewalk should remain open during the rehabilitation project.
The curb-to-curb width of the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate two-directional traffic during the deck repair construction. Therefore, one lane of Route 209 northbound traffic will be maintained on the bridge while the southbound traffic will be detoured on Canal Street, through Weissport on Bridge Street and onto Bankway Street.
Temporary traffic lights will be installed at the intersection of Bankway and Bridge Street at the Lehighton end of the Weissport/Lehighton bridge to help with traffic flow.
Because the project anticipates that Weissport will have two lanes of traffic flowing through Weissport during the three to four months of the anticipated project, Weissport officials continue to be very concerned that Weissport residents will not be able to access Bridge Street.
Council members have asked PennDOT to consider putting up a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Bridge Street and White Street to allow residents the opportunity to join the traffic flow.
The McCall Bridge, built in 1938, was last rehabilitated in 1981.
In 2007 during a routine inspection, the bridge was given the fifth worst score of all state-owned deck truss highway bridges.
The McCall bridge was named after former state Rep. Keith McCall's father, who died on Christmas Eve in 1981 of a heart attack. At the time, Thomas J. McCall was a state representative. Through Thomas McCall's efforts, the deck of the bridge was replaced in 1981.
The McCall bridge has the same type of deck truss construction as the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, resulting in 14 deaths.