Community meetings planned about Byberry Road bridge

Somerton residents have expressed concerns that a new bridge will bring large trucks to their doorsteps.

Byberry Road looking eastbound near Trina Drive. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will address the public at two meetings this week to provide details about plans to build a new Byberry Road bridge spanning freight railroad tracks in Somerton.

The first meeting will coincide with the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Somerton Civic Association on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road. On Thursday, Sept. 14, PennDOT will host its own public meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road.

The Somerton Civic Association will then hold a third community meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Walker Lodge 306 to address unrelated neighborhood topics not discussed at the Sept. 12 session.

Previously, PennDOT officials have said that they must replace the bridge spanning CSX-owned tracks between Evans Street and Trina Drive/Worthington Road because the existing bridge is structurally deficient. The steel truss bridge was installed in 1996 as a temporary structure and has been in use since. It is subject to a three-ton weight limit that prevents large trucks from accessing a residential portion of Byberry Road between Worthington Road and Bustleton Avenue.

SCA members seek to keep the weight restriction so trucks will continue to use alternative routes. But PennDOT officials have said that they cannot build a new permanent bridge with a three-ton weight limit.

PennDOT stated in an Aug. 31 news release that construction is expected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020. The agency’s Sept. 14 meeting will feature visual displays in an open house format, as well as a group presentation and public comments. The SCA’s Sept. 12 meeting will be dedicated solely to the Byberry bridge issue and will also include a question-and-answer period. The city’s Department of Streets is expected to participate, according to the civic association. ••