Mulberry St. Bridge in Harrisburg to close next week

Shannon Lyons walks from his home in Allison Hill to Strawberry Square every day to get to work.

For years, he has used the Mulberry Street Bridge as his branch to provide for his family tree.

On Wednesday, Lyons must find another way to work.

“I didn't appreciate them closing the bridge,” he said. “A lot of people live on this side of Allison Hill.”

Built in 1909, the bridge endured a reconstruction in 1957 and had repairs again in the 1980s and 1990s. In the new millennium, the bridge is crumbling.

Netting to protect the Amtrak trains below were hung in 2008. Repairs must be done now in 2014, much to the chagrin of many.

PennDOT convinced the city shutting down the bridge completely for the next nine months was a better option than prolonged labor phased in over a three-year period. The $17 million project will fix the structure of the historic bridge as well as increase lighting, pedestrian safety, and add a new bicycle lane.

However, the famed murals will not be a part of the new design, according to PennDOT. The murals will be taken down and stored at the former post office on Market Street for up to six months. PennDOT will do the removal and transport for free. The murals hope to gain sponsors so they can be placed around the city at various parks and playgrounds.

Mike Keiser, a PennDOT district supervisor, said getting all the work done in one continuous construction season will be the best outcome in the long run.

“That's going to allow us to increase safety,” he said.

Neshaminy Constructors Inc. will be charged with the overhaul, a $12 million project. The permit fees and other expenses equal the final $5 million.

PennDOT said the bridge usually accommodates about 12,000 vehicles every day and dozens of pedestrians. Along the bridge, there are fliers in clear boxes that have much of the closure and detour information.

To alleviate some of the transportation headaches, Capital Area Transit will provide added services to Allison Hill that will begin on Monday.

Route 15 will be eliminated and Route 17 will be added. The line will provide service from State Street to 17th Street and stop by Hamilton Health Center 26 times a day, according to CAT General Manager Bill Jones.

Routes 1 and 13 will remain the same. Routes 8, 19, 20, and the 322 Inbound on Derry Street will turn north at 13th Street to Market Street into downtown.

“I believe we have a result this is not only a result of a lot of hard work, but it is the public's system,” said Jones.

There were many public meetings that were held to receive feedback about the changes. But, while Lyons recognizes CAT and PennDOT are trying to help, there is still a big difference between walking and having to take the bus.

“It still costs money,” he said. “It still costs money and you trying to save money and make money, it's not going to work.”

PennDOT said improvements were made the crosswalks around the Market and Cameron Street intersection.


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