This weekend a busy section of Route 581 in Cumberland County will close while crews will replace the 10th Street bridge in Lemoyne.
PennDOT said an average of 86,000 vehicles cross this bridge every day. This weekend it might be more because of the Ford Nationals car show in Carlisle and Cumberland Valley’s graduation in Hershey.
It is going to be a big mess for many Midstaters, including first responders.
From 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, 581 eastbound will be closed between Route 15 and I-83. Workers will replace the Tenth Street bridge’s eastbound lanes.
Drivers traveling to the east shore will be detoured around the capitol beltway from 581, to 81, to 83. People driving to the west shore will encounter a lane closure.
There is more than one way to travel from shore to shore, like the Market Street bridge, the Harvey Taylor, and the Susquehanna River Bridge on the turnpike.
“Those would be decent options,” said Mike Crochunis, PennDOT spokesman. “However, they will be seriously, seriously backlogged as well because all this traffic from 581 has got to go somewhere.”
Where that traffic goes is a problem for Cumberland Goodwill EMS.
“With the 581 bridge, that’s our main artery to Harrisburg Hospital and Hershey Medical center,” said Nathan Harig, Assistant Chief with Cumberland Goodwill EMS. “And then the detour actually takes you past how we get to West Shore hospital and Holy Spirit, so that could really slow things down there.”
Between the construction and the Ford Nationals, they called a “code red.”
“Normally a patient has a chance to choose their hospitals that they’re going to be transported to,” said Harig. “But in a code red situation, we want to make sure an ambulance is available for everyone, so we’re taking them to the closest facility that can handle their emergency.”
In most cases, Carlisle Regional.
“Now certain patients might be having something that requires a specialty resource center. So they’re encountering an emergency like a heart attack, stroke, or a major trauma, or maybe they’re a pediatric patient, they’re still going to go to a specialty resource center,” Harig said. “This is just going to increase our availability and make sure we’re there for the people who need us most.”
PennDOT will close the westbound lanes next weekend, weather permitting. If all goes as planned, construction will be done by the 4th of July, thanks to an innovative approach. Normally, it would have taken a year and a half.
Purpose 1, a company in Lemoyne, will live stream the construction. You can watch it here.