Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Public meeting March 18 to answer questions and hear input on Veterans Memorial Bridge project

The Veterans Memorial Bridge

The public is invited to ask questions and offer input on the Veterans Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation Project at a meeting on March 18, 3-8 p.m. at the District Administration Center, 200 North 5th Street.

The bridge project, which was to have begun this year, has been given a new start date of 2023. The meeting is intended to be a fairly informal, "drop-in" affair with borough officials and PennDOT representatives.

Columbia Spy posted the following information about the project on March 19, 2018, some of which may have changed in the interim:

The $54-60 million reconstruction and rehabilitation project will include a refurbished deck with an 8-foot-wide walking lane, two 8-foot bicycle lanes (on the north and south sides), and two 9-foot traffic lanes in the center. The narrower traffic lanes will be a deterrent for speeders, Lutz said. All lanes will be separated with white traffic lines. 

Additional construction will bring the bridge into compliance. Of concern is a bridge arch that has "frozen" into place above its bearing and caused a significant crack. (All bridge arches rest on bearings, allowing expansion and contraction.) Despite the cracking, the bridge is rated "fair" and is considered safe. The underside of the bridge will be completed before deck work begins, Lutz said. Lights might also be added to the underside to help keep mayflies off the road surface and to beautify the bridge.

Two options are being considered for construction: closing off one lane of the bridge and having traffic flow in one direction in the remaining lane; or shutting down the bridge entirely, allowing the project to be completed more quickly (in about a year), since workers would not have to interact with traffic. Lutz said the second option is unfavorable because a traffic accident on Route 30 could shut down the Wrights Ferry (Route 30) Bridge also, preventing all traffic from crossing the river. He added, however, that the four lanes of the Wrights Ferry Bridge could quickly be converted to two in such a case, using existing median barriers as "gates."

A portion of Rotary Park will be used to stage construction equipment and materials, and the former Columbia #1 Fire Company building along Front Street could serve as offices, Lutz said. RK&K Engineering, PennDOT, and the Lancaster County Planning Commission have already met to discuss the project. Preliminary engineering design work is scheduled for the next year and a half.


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