PennDOT postpones Byberry Road bridge meeting

State Sen. John Sabatina asked the transportation agency to schedule the meeting at a more convenient time for neighborhood residents

Looking eastbound on Byberry Road with the steel truss bridge in the background. TIMES FILE PHOTO

State Sen. John Sabatina disclosed on Friday that the state Department of Transportation has agreed to postpone a planned July 20 public meeting to discuss the controversial Byberry Road Bridge.

The meeting will now be held on Sept. 12 and coincide with the next meeting of the Somerton Civic Association. The SCA usually meets at 7:30 p.m. at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road, but the meeting may be moved to a larger venue to accommodate expected interest in the topic.

“That way it will give plenty of time for (public) notice and plenty of time for people to get home from vacations,” Sabatina told the Northeast Times.

Sabatina expects a PennDOT official to speak at the meeting.

“I told (SCA President) Chris Bordelon that I think we can get the District 6 executive or the secretary (of transportation) there to answer your questions about the bridge,” Sabatina said.

Leslie S. Richards is the PennDOT secretary while Kenneth M. McClain is the District 6 executive, covering the five-county Philadelphia region.

PennDOT has announced plans to replace a structurally deficient bridge that carries Byberry Road over freight railroad tracks between Evans Street and Worthington Road. The existing steel truss bridge was installed in 1996 and has a three-ton weight limit that prevents large commercial vehicles from crossing into a residential section of Somerton.

Neighbors want to maintain a weight-restriction on the bridge, but PennDOT has said it won’t build a new bridge with the same weight restriction. Local officials may institute a “no trucks” policy on the bridge, but questions remain about the city’s ability to enforce such a ban.

The affected stretch of Byberry Road connects with the western terminus of the Woodhaven Road expressway via Evans Street. PennDOT’s traffic data show that about 20,000 vehicles a day travel on Woodhaven Road at Evans Street. Under current conditions, most westbound trucks must exit Woodhaven Road at Roosevelt Boulevard to avoid the Byberry Road Bridge, which prevents them from using Byberry Road to access Bustleton Avenue, Philmont Avenue, County Line Road and other commercial arteries. ••