By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
For 21st Century Media
PENN – After 10 years, for better or worse, the Sunnyside Road Bridge has reopened. Ambulance, rescue and fire trucks from the West Grove Fire Department were the first to make the crossing after the official ribbon cutting for the new bridge on June 5.
The original timber bridge, measuring 14 feet 8 inches wide and 55 feet long, was built in 1850 to cross over the railroad line. It was rehabilitated in 1984, but with time it continued to deteriorate. It was closed in 2003 when it failed a routine inspection.
After a PUC decision in 2006 the township agreed to design and build a replacement bridge, and with the East Penn Railway, Inc, removed the remaining pieces of the old bridge the following year. Design changes, funding issues and other obstacles kept the bridge closed until bids were let on June 5 of 2012. Road-Con, Inc., of West Chester was the low bidder at $867,265.30
With the addition of design costs and oversight expenses the total cost to replace the old wooden bridge with a 56-foot concrete bridge comes to $1,141,901.23. Penn Township is paying that full bill, but will be reimbursed for 80 percent of the costs by PennDOT once the project is 100 percent complete.
County Commissioner Ryan Costello was at the ribbon cutting. He let the supervisors know that the commissioners will help if needed in getting the reimbursement. “We’re very grateful the project got done. It’s a very expensive capital project, but you got it done on time and on budget,” he said.
Some traffic had already discovered that the bridge was completed several days before the opening ceremony, and according to neighbors, speeding is already a problem on what had become a dead end road while the bridge was out.
At this point, residents have concerns that with the new bridge and the return of through traffic they would have really rather seen it remain closed. “Traffic has been flying up and down the road,” neighbor Tricia Coyle said. “The bridge has been closed for so many years that we have a lot of children who are not used to having to deal with traffic. We had a lot of concerns. We kind of liked having a dead end road.”
Township supervisors knew that speeding would be an issue on the road even though the posted speed limit is just 25 miles an hour. The road is scheduled for repaving this summer, and at that time two Seminole County speed humps will be installed on the approach to each side of the bridge to slow traffic.
“They are not bumps, they are lifts. If you are doing the speed limit, you’ll barely notice them. If you’re speeding, you’ll tear the bottom out of your car,” Supervisor Victor Mantegna said.