At its Aug. 25 meeting, the Avondale Borough Council voted to close the bridge over White Clay Creek on West State Road. Because West State Road is a major feeder road to and from Avondale, some residents said closing the bridge could cause some inconvenience and disrupt traffic in and out of town.
Fred Bryan, Avondale Borough Council president, said, "We voted at our last meeting to close the bridge - a date has not been set yet for the actual closing. The bridge is being closed for repairs and we don't know at this time how long those will take." He also said that a public hearing to discuss the bridge condition and its closing had not been scheduled.
Bryan could not say at this time which level of government - borough, township, county, or state - would pay for the repairs.
The West State Road Bridge over the White Clay Creek carries a surprisingly large volume of traffic. During an informal traffic count at 3:45 p.m. on a weekday, 50 vehicles passed over the bridge within a six-minute period. That's roughly 500 vehicles an hour for that time of day.
While large trucks are prohibited from using the bridge, many trucks in the one- to two-ton category passed over the bridge during the observation period, as well as several large yellow school buses.
Once the bridge is closed, no expeditious alternative to W. State Street seems apparent. Traffic approaching Avondale from the west will need to either travel north through West Grove on Rt. 841 and then Baltimore Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue into Avondale or take a southern route on Garden Station Road to Ellicott Road to Avondale. Similarly, those same routes would be used by traffic leaving Avondale travelling east and south toward Inniscrone Golf Course, Wickerton, and New London.
On the basis of visual inspection of the bridge from a distance of about 20 feet, significant deterioration of the bridge's concrete span is apparent. In some places, sufficient concrete has eroded from the bridge to expose the steel rods-rebar-built into the structure for reinforcement. The rebar was clearly visible inside the decaying concrete.
Questions about the bridge are still outstanding, and some could pose dilemmas for the borough Council: Has a structural engineer evaluated the bridge? And, if so, does the bridge's condition warrant limiting traffic immediately, especially school buses? When will the bridge close? A week, a month, six months from now? What routes will be selected by traffic analysts as official detours? What source of funding will be used to make the repairs?
The Avon Grove Sun will attempt to report on these issues in the near future.