Engineers eye weakened bridge
WHITEMARSH Engineers are surveying the West Valley Road bridge over Wissahickon Creek in Whitemarsh Township to determine whether it can be rehabilitated.
The bridge, which carries thousands of cars a day, was closed March 7 after inspectors found that the beams supporting the concrete roadway had deteriorated. County officials last week approved the engineering study, using mostly Pennsylvania Department of Transportation funds.
If the bridge cannot be repaired, it will have to be replaced, said Ken Starr, county director of assets and infrastructure.
The study will also examine the possibility of improving or expanding the bridge, Commissioner Leslie Richards said.
"Right now it's just a two-lane bridge; it's very narrow," Richards said. "We are looking at adding pedestrian walkways that go over the Wissahickon Creek." The walkway would connect to the Cross-County recreational trail.
It would take about five years of studies, planning, and bidding before the permanent bridge project could begin, Starr said. In the meantime, county road crews are working on a temporary fix to bolster and reopen the bridge "as quickly as possible," he said.
- Jessica Parks