And so it begins: 926 bridge to close Feb. 13

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PennDOT to start bridge replacement over Brandywine

The official detour route for the bridge closing, from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

After a nearly two-decade wait, work is slated to finally begin on replacement of the Route 926 bridge over Brandywine Creek in Pocopson and Birmingham — with the bridge and nearby roadways closing on Feb. 13.

The $8.6 million replacement project is slated to be completed by Sept. 1, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). In addition to a new span, the level of the roadway on either side of the Brandywine is to be raised to prevent the numerous flooding events that have closed the road in recent years.

Additionally, a new traffic light is in the process of being installed at the intersection of Route 52 and Pocopson Road/West Creek Road — the first of its type in southeast Pennsylvania.

Traffic is slated to be detoured to US-1 and Route 52, according to the official PennDOT detour, but it is likely that much local traffic will use Route 52 and delays are likely to be an issue at the Lenape Bridge. Those delays could get worse when Creek Road, on the Birmingham side of the Brandywine, is closed in June. Motorists are advised to allow extra time in transit.

Although the project was originally thought to need more than a year in completion, both public outcry and pressure from local and legislative officials pushed the agency to be more aggressive in its scheduling, owing to the major traffic disruption to the area, only a couple of years after a similar disruption to build the Pocopson Roundabout on Route 52, which ran well past its building schedule. As a result, the contractor — Clearwater Construction, Inc., of Mercer — will be penalized for any time beyond the scheduled opening of Sept. 1.

The new traffic light design with a flashing yellow arrow, the first of its kind in the region. Courtesy: PennDOT.

Still, the project to replace the bridge, built in 1937 and rehabbed in 1974, is both ambitious and wide ranging.

PennDOT plans to replace the 79-year-old bridge with a new three-span structure built at a higher elevation; rebuilding and raising 1,700 feet of the roadway approaches to make them less prone to flooding; replacing the nearby culvert over Radley Run with an 84-foot twin arch concrete culvert; and realigning 800 feet of Creek Road at its northern intersection with Route 926 (Street Road).

The new bridge will be built to resemble the current structure and have stone form liners covering the piers so they resemble the existing piers. The new structure also will include an open, higher railing.

Once construction is completed, the bridge and culvert will need to be closed for a weekend in spring, 2018, to allow for a final resurfacing.

The steel I-beam structure is 190 feet long and 26 feet wide. The bridge, which is posted with a weight restriction of 26 tons and 33 tons for combination loads, carries approximately 13,200 vehicles a day.

The new traffic light at Route 52 and Pocopson Road will be a bit of a departure for local motorists, featuring the area’s first blinking yellow arrow for left-hand turns.

The Flashing Yellow Arrow signal is new to Pennsylvania, but PennDOT says they have become commonplace in many states across the country over the last decade. Based on studies and transportation agency testimonials, PennDOT says, Flashing Yellow Arrow signals improve left-turning safety by helping motorists recognize that they should yield while making left turns when there is oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

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