The Narberth Avenue bridge is likely to be closed for another month during repairs, Borough Manager Bill Martin said at Monday night's council meeting.
The bridge closed Aug. 29 after PennDOT inspectors found cause for concern. It remains open to pedestrians, but not vehicles. The walkways on either side of the bridge are closed; pedestrians are directed to use the vehicle lanes.
The same bridge closed from mid-September to early November 2011, also after a PennDOT inspection. Though not all the details are known, it is likely the repairs will be of a similar scope as those performed in 2011, Martin said.
The expected cost is $85,000 to $95,000. Last year's repairs cost about $56,000, Martin told the council.
Ed Ridgway, spokesman for the Narberth Business Association, said in a statement Monday afternoon: "That bridge is very important to the business community since it’s one of the main approaches to Narberth’s downtown. Our businesses are pleased to hear that the Borough is moving quickly to get the repairs done. We’re especially grateful for the support from our loyal customers that helps us meet this challenging situation."
The borough is planning to replace the bridge from January to December 2014. A public meeting Thursday, Sept. 27, will focus on the design of that project.
Council members expressed some concern over how comprehensive the new repairs would be.
With two closures in two years, Councilman Bob Wegbreit said, "I'd hate to see us have to deal with this again next year."
Council Vice President Aaron Muderick said he wanted crews to examine and repair sections of the bridge that are likely to deteriorate to critical levels over the next year, rather than just the sections that are failing already.
"These things don't happen at an unpredictable rate," Muderick said. "This is engineering."
Officials want to fit bridge demolition and construction in between holiday shopping seasons, to avoid having too ill an effect on the downtown merchants. Martin said January 2013 would be unrealistically soon to begin demolition, given all the bureaucratic steps that must be followed.
Council President Sam Quinn asked whether lowering the weight limit on the new bridge would save on the cost of construction. Martin said that was an option, given that Narberth fire trucks, for traffic reasons, do not use the Narberth Avenue span.
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