AVONDALE >> The replacement of the State Street Bridge that collapsed into Indian Run on Thursday at noon will not be a quick fix, said Borough Council President Bill Shore. Among other things, the bridge sits right beside the borough sewer and water plants and has utility lines running alongside, which prompts caution and takes time to accommodate.
After the collapse last week, the bridge was the main topic of discussion in town, and many were asking why it was going to take nine months to repair.
State Street is the main thoroughfare between the center of town (including the post office and stores) and several housing developments and schools to the south. With the closing of the bridge for repairs several weeks ago and the weight limitations for years before that, an inconvenient barrier was effectively put in place between many residents and the main commercial center.
One man who lives on the south side of the bridge said he has to drive all the way to West Grove and circle back just to get his mail at the post office.
Shore said there are many factors entering into work on the bridge that was declared deficient by PennDOT almost a decade ago.
Just the process of adding chlorine to the water at the plant next door gave Shore pause. “I’m concerned about the vibrations,” he said.
There is also a gas line near the end which, coincidentally, was capped just the day before the collapse.
Additionally, telephone and other utility lines lie underground, and they have to be located and moved before any digging is done.
Responding to those who are concerned about the lengthy repair time, it said it’s not just the road across that needs to be built. It’s the abutments on both sides, he said.
There is also the quality of the stream below that needs consideration. Indian Run is classified as a “wild and scenic” waterway, which means that the standards of purity must be maintained.
When the front end loader fell in, Shore said the fluids were drained from it before they pulled it out to prevent leaks into the water. He said representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection took samples on Friday and will report back soon if the water quality was affected by the incident.
Looking back on the Thursday incident, Shore said the front end loader that fell into the stream toppled off at the beam that bears the sidewalk. “It came down slowly, and it just couldn’t take the weight,” Shore said.
That piece of road equipment was so heavy that it took Blittersdorf Towing’s large truck with crane to lift it out, and didn’t finish until about 9 p.m.
As soon as the bridge was closed several weeks ago, vehicles were not permitted. Now with rocks piled up, and yellow tape across the entrances, no one is supposed to even walk on it.
But they do.
“I know people don’t listen,” Shore said.
Shore said if they want to walk across, they can wade across the stream. But lifelong Avondale resident Bill Webb, 84, said the center is strong, and he took a walk across.
Webb reported that he came down to take a look at the goings on while the tow truck was there and got some information about a longtime friend.
“I hadn’t seen my friend Bill Blittersdorf for a long time (the presdient of the company). I asked them if he was still around, and they told me he was. That was good news,” Webb said.
The replacement of the bridge is predicted to be finished in spring of 2018, but Shore said it could be sooner if there is a warm winter and an opportunity to pour concrete and have it set.