CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Four years since a Cumberland County bridge closed due to safety concerns, relief is in sight but roadblocks remain.
About two dozen people attended a meeting Wednesday evening to view plans for replacing the Wolf Bridge in Middlesex Township. The proposal would involve removing the old single-lane bridge and starting construction on a modern two-lane bridge in 2017 or 2018.
“It takes forever to do anything,” said Dee Condon, a township resident who says she’s been inconvenienced since the bridge closed in 2013 after failing a safety inspection. “At first, we were told we’re going to have it opened, hopefully, by the end of 2016. And then it got pushed to 2017. And now, I find out it is not going to open until 2018. It’s really dragging out.”
Condon was also disappointed to learn the new bridge would have no weight restrictions and would be able to handle traffic from large trucks.
“It’s a narrow road,” Condon added. “It’s got a wicked curve to go down by the creek, and trucks are going to get stuck there.”
According to Cumberland County Planning Director Kirk Stoner, unwanted truck traffic could be avoided by placing weight restrictions on roads leading up to the bridge. That decision would fall on township officials at a later date closer to construction.
Stoner says the delay in the overall project can be attributed in part to red tape from state and federal officials. Since the Wolf Bridge was constructed in the 1800’s, “it is eligible for the historic register of historic places,” he says. While the removal of the bridge from its current location is imminent, attempts must be made to preserve it. Currently, the bridge is listed for sale on a PennDOT website.
“Nationwide, folks can look and see if they want to purchase the bridge,” Stoner said. “To date, I’ve only had one serious inquiry. That one turned sour pretty quickly, because when you look at the cost of tearing the bridge down, relocating them, and then potentially reassembling them, it gets expensive very quickly.”
Despite delays and other concerns, most residents were pleased to see progress on a project that would help them travel more easily. Still, they admit they’ll believe it when they see it.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing a new bridge. I’m happy to see a timeline,” Dan Smyser said. “If it is announced it has been delayed, I’m going to make some calls and ask why.
A project overview presented at Wednesday’s meeting can be found below: