Somerton residents get update on Byberry bridge project

The project to replace the Byberry Road bridge near MaST is in the final design phase, and construction is expected to begin next year.

PennDOT is moving forward with a plan to replace the Byberry Road bridge near MaST Community Charter School. TIMES FILE PHOTO

A project to replace the Byberry Road bridge over train tracks near MaST Community Charter School is in its final design stage, state officials told residents at the May 14 Somerton Civic Association meeting.

Construction on the new bridge is expected to begin in mid-2020, and from there the process of building it should take 18 to 24 months, said Michael Cuddy, a consultant project manager working with the state Department of Transportation.

Neighbors have long worried about congestion and truck traffic, and those concerns were again expressed at the civic meeting.

The current bridge, which runs over CSX tracks between Bustleton Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard, was constructed by PennDOT in 1996 as a temporary structure, according to Cuddy.

He said it is in poor condition and has reached the end of its useful life. The Public Utility Commission has ordered that the bridge be replaced.

Nearly 33,000 vehicles are estimated to travel over the bridge per day, Cuddy said.

The new bridge will have two lanes — one eastbound, the other westbound — and a right turn lane for access to MaST. Six-foot sidewalks will be incorporated into the project, and the MaST driveway will be slightly reconfigured.

Cuddy said two lanes of traffic will remain open throughout most of the construction process, although there might be limited closures during certain times.

Once completed, the bridge will be designed to carry school buses, emergency vehicles and delivery trucks, Cuddy said.

The city has already installed “No Thru Truck” signs and those will remain once the new bridge opens.

Some residents at the meeting wanted more signs, and others pushed for a weight limit, which is enforced for the current bridge. Cuddy said the state is not permitted to allow a newly-constructed bridge to have a weight limit.

Neighbors also raised concerns about the congestion caused by school buses and other vehicles from MaST. Cuddy said officials hope the right turn lane eases some of that traffic.

Right now, PennDOT is working on property easements and coordinating with utility companies for the project.

In other news from the May 14 Somerton Civic Association meeting:

SCA President Chris Bordelon said the civic is working on holding a public meeting with the Greater Bustleton Civic League about the future of the former Budd Company property, 1 Red Lion Road. A time and date should be announced prior to the civic association’s June meeting.

Several candidates in the May 21 primary also addressed residents a week before the election.

The Somerton Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at the Walker Lodge of the I.O.O.F., 1290 Southampton Road. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com