The Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners and the public received their first formal presentation from the architects who will be replacing the Cold Spring Bridge during Monday night’s meeting.
No PennDOT officials were present during the presentation, rather officials from Michael Baker Architects provided plans to replace the bridge located at Second Street in the township.
The current bridge is “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete,” according to engineer David Frey. While several options were initially explored, it was determined that replacement of the bridge, rather than remodeling or rehabilitating the current bridge, was the “desired alternative.”
The existing bridge has 11 foot lanes and a four foot sidewalk and spans a total of 29 feet, three inches. The proposed bridge would maintain the 11 foot lanes and add shoulder width of eight feet on the one side, if it was deemed that a sidewalk was not installed, bringing the total to more than 35 feet.
Mayor Ed Hozza noted that it was the township’s goal is to have a raised sidewalk and barrier on the bridge and currently the issue was under negotiation with PennDOT.
President Linda Snyder said she was very familiar with the bridge and that in her estimation, there was no question that it needed a sidewalk.
"I would not want to be on that bridge without a sidewalk," she said.
In addition, residents learned that no property would have to be acquired to complete the project, as originally was under consideration in the initial stages, however the prospect of utility poles beging moved remained as a viable option, according to Frey.
Several nearby residents used the public comment session to inquire further into the plan, and raise concerns.
One resident, John Vassa, noted that he was concerned that the increased size of the bridge would also mean increased speeds from motorists, who already find the current 35 mph speed too constricting for their driving pleasure.
“I’m kinda worried about somebody driving through my front window,” he noted at one point.
Other issues raises were the potential that during construction water lines would be damaged.
The project will go out to bid by the end of 2013, according to Frey, with construction set to begin in early 2014, lasting about 18 months, and ending in the middle of 2015. At this point, construction is expected to be Monday through Friday.