Residents and motorists traveling along Wilmore Road in Cambria Township will be experiencing a lengthy detour for the bulk of the summer.
The more than 70-year-old Wilmore Bridge, recognized as being structurally deficient by PennDOT officials, is set to be replaced. Work will begin June 17 and wrap up before school starts in August.
“It’s not a danger to the community now but it won’t be long until it becomes a danger,” said Michael Peachey, a PennDOT engineer.
A 10-mile detour was laid out, herding the average of 400 cars that cross the bridge daily south along Wilmore Road to Fairlane Road/State Route 160, which becomes New Germany Road. From New Germany Road, motorists will take Mini Mall Road/State Route 3032 back to Route 22.
A temporary one-lane roadway will be placed on the upstream side of the bridge so EMS responders can reach calls occurring along Wilmore Road – a feature brought to Penn-DOT’s attention by concerned residents and added to the project, although at a significant cost increase.
“There were no viable options for township roads, so we went ahead with the temporary road,” Peachey said. “The public was very pleased overall, and we were pleased we could accommodate it.”
The temporary road, however, will not be built to standard, according to project manager Ed Grove. This means no guardrail, no pavement and a one-lane width. Non-emergency vehicles will not be permitted to use it.
The existing concrete T-beam superstructure on the revamp-ed bridge will become a steel I-beam, reinforced by a concrete deck. Although the project is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks with no major forseeable delays – except a heavy storm system – Peachey said one of the final steps in the process will be a 48-day period of concrete curing.
He said that although it may appear as if the site is unmanned for the last leg of the project, the bridge will not be usable.
“We don’t want people to be frustrated toward the end of the project – during the concrete curing time,” he said.
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