Bridge detours eased Lititz Pike closings to last just 4 months
BY CHIP SMEDLEY, Staff Writer
Construction of the new Lititz Pike bridge is still going to cause headaches, but maybe not as intense as originally anticipated.
That's what business owners and emergency service providers learned at a meeting with PennDOT officials Thursday night.
The best news?
Access to Keller and Marshall avenues from Lititz Pike north of the city should not last as long as indicated by the original construction schedule.
A portion of Keller Avenue, from the Lititz Pike to Glen Moore Circle, was slated to be closed from May of this year to May of 2014. The closure is necessary because the bridge plans call for an entirely new storm water drainage system to be installed under the street, while new sidewalks and pedestrian crossings (with ADA-accessible ramps) are constructed at the avenue's intersection with Lititz Pike.
However, said Mike Sisson, of Michael Baker, LLC, the engineering consulting firm performing construction management services for the project, the work should not take nearly that long.
"I would suspect it could be done in four months, not a year," Sisson said. After the construction work is done, the roadway will be milled and re-paved to join the new intersection.
That news was music to the ears of representatives of businesses on Keller Avenue such as Dan Diller Realtors, J&J Heating and Cooling and Albright Opticians. During construction, the only way people will be able to access their operations is from the Fruitville Pike.
That means anyone travelling on Lititz Pike could not turn onto Keller Avenue, but would have to take a roundabout detour to get to Fruitville Pike, which will provide the only access to Keller Avenue.
But, as Doug Martin of J&J Heating and Cooling noted, "People aren't going to do that."
Sisson explained state law mandates that PennDOT can only detour drivers onto state roads and not township ones. He added, though, that in his experience, "The people who know their way around are going to use the back roads."
Similarly, Marshall Avenue, scheduled for closure from May 2014 to October 2014 should also be closed for only four months, Sisson said.
The biggest concern for emergency service providers, however, is that Lititz Pike will be narrowed to only two lanes -- one north, one south -- from approximately the end of Stauffer Park to the top of the existing Lititz Pike bridge.
Jeff Rohrbaugh, supervisor for Susquehanna Emergency Services, said Route 222 and Lititz Pike are the major arteries for responders from the northern part of the county transporting patients to Lancaster General Health. The lane restrictions will cause traffic to back up, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to pass through.
Rohrbaugh said he will recommend all northern responders to avoid Lititz Pike by either taking Route 30 East to the Walnut Street exit, or Route 30 West to the Fruitville Pike exit.
Also revealed at the meeting is that PennDOT plans to construct a large, triangular, stormwater retention basin on land located between the new bridge and the Stockyard Inn. That basin, said Sisson, is designed to catch all of the water coming down from the bridge. When completed, it will be 200 feet long, 75 feet wide at its widest point, and four to five feet deep.
Sisson said he would keep business owners and residents informed about the project's progress and added that he already asked PennDOT to establish a website dedicated solely to the bridge project that people could check for updates and announcements.
The meeting was the third of three held for business owners and residents affected by the $26.25 million project, $12.7 million of which is for the construction of the new bridge. When completed in October 2014 the end result will be a new bridge over the Amtrak and Norfolk Southern tracks which funnels southbound traffic entering the city directly onto Duke Street.
Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin was instrumental in encouraging PennDOT to hold the meetings after residents and business owners in the affected area had contacted him because they felt they were not receiving sufficient information about the project.
Martin said he made the overtures to PennDOT because while the bridge project is important, "Just as important are the residents and businesses that are impacted and it's important that PennDOT communicate with them as much as possible to mitigate that impact. Hopefully, meetings such as these will set a cooperative tone that lasts through the duration of the project."