As you know, the Narberth Ave bridge is closed to vehicles. (See the Borough’s notice on that here: https://mailchi.mp/4b1fbd2b1fae/narberth-avenue-bridge-closed-to-vehicles-effective-friday-march-8-2019?e=157a80867a) It's important to note that Council is taking a "better safe than sorry" approach to some recent bridge reports and concerns, and that the bridge has not been given an "unsafe" safety score.
So what comes next? The inspection team will give us a report to update us on the bridge's condition and safety. If all the reports are finished by then, the Council expects to revisit the issue at their March 20 meeting. It's definitely going to cost us some money that will not be reimbursed. While the Borough's share of the bridge replacement costs is only 5%, we are 100% responsible for the cost of repairs. The Borough will certainly have to invest in some netting to catch potential debris. Depending on the reports and what is possible, Council will have to decide whether it makes sense to rebuild one or both of the "boardwalk" pedestrian walkways on the side, which have a different support structure that is attached to the rest of the bridge. Council may need to decide on whether to make other bridge repairs, for the road portion of the bridge. Also depending on the reports, Council may reopen the bridge to vehicles.
Much of the Borough’s focus at this time is on the long-term plan, which is replacement of this 114 year-old bridge. This replacement has been anticipated for the last twenty years, at least, but the Borough can’t dictate the schedule for a project that involves PECO, PennDot, Septa, Amtrak, etc. Plus there are tons of other bridges slated for replacement that are on the same waiting list as ours. Our start date has been moved back many times. PennDot has currently budgeted this project to start this Fall (2019), before the construction phase, with some land acquisitions at the ends of the bridge. After the project goes to bid this winter, if the schedule doesn’t change, construction could start in Spring of 2020 and take 12-14 months.
News compiled by Ed Ridgway, NBA president, and marketing consultant at Main Line PR