Officials agree new Pocopson bridge must look nice

Construction of a new bridge on Route 926 in Pocopson Township will take place next year at a cost of about $10 million.

POCOPSON >> With construction of the Route 52 roundabout in Pocopson winding down, construction of a new project in the township will make life much more challenging for motorists.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is expected to begin work to replace the aging Pocopson Bridge on Route 926 at Pocopson Road by September of 2015. The road closure will impact the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District for two full school years, and will cause longer bus rides. PennDOT officials estimate construction to take a year and a half.

The project is expected to cost between $8 and $10 million. Funding has been approved and the bridge will be totally rebuilt from the ground up. The work contract and design has not yet been completed.

Last week, PennDOT representatives met with state lawmakers and the public to talk about what the bridge will look like when it’s completed. Rep. Steven Barrer, R-160th of Upper Chichester, said he wanted the bridge to look nice but not at the cost of extending construction time.

“The feeling is it should blend in with the historic nature of the area,” Barrar said. “The stone facing of the pillars should be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. We get one shot at putting this bridge up in our lifetime, so we want to make sure it fits the character of the Brandywine Valley.”

A construction timeline was discussed at the meeting, and Barrar said incentives may be issued to ensure the project finishes up earlier than 18 months. If construction starts earlier than September, it won’t impact the school schedule as much, according to Barrar.

“It would be nice if it would take us just one school season, but if it started in September, two school seasons will be impacted,” Barrar said.

The 77-year-old bridge that was built in the mid-1930s will be demolished and a new 300-foot-long bridge with 5-foot shoulders in each lane will be built. The total width of the bridge is estimated to be 32 feet. The four-span bridge is 190 feet long and 26 feet wide. The steel I-beam structure carries 14,474 vehicles a day. The estimated cost for the project is $8 million said Charles Metzger, a PennDOT representative.

Construction of the new bridge will take place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

PennDOT plans to raise the approach roads on both sides of Route 926 by a couple feet to minimize the impact of flooding. Currently, heavy rains force the closure of the road at the bridge, sometimes for days.

The detour route has not yet been established, but motorists who routinely travel across the bridge will find commutes much longer. Routes 1, 52 and 202 will be utilized for the detour route; only state roads can be used for detours.

Meanwhile, construction of the $2.1 million roundabout on Route 52 near Pocopson Home is expected to finish by year’s end, and Route 52 is expected to open to traffic on Jan. 1.

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