It’s Open – Bridge Construction Comes to an End

The bridge between Millersville and Conestoga is officially open.

At 3:15 p.m. Friday, A spokesman for the state transportation office said the barriers were being dragged away to open the bridge.

It had to open in the next 24 hours for the construction contractor not to incur a daily fine for going over the Nov. 20 deadline.

“If they didn’t have the bridge open by Saturday, they have to pay a fee,” said Greg Penny, a local PennDot spokesman, who is pretty confident the deadline will be met.

So the bridge will open, for awhile and then close partially so extra work can be done, according to state officals.

“I’m excited,” said phys-ed teacher, Britney Clugston, about the bridge. “It will make getting to Conestoga more convenient, and getting to the the Y(MCA) in Lampeter.”

When the last work is done and the bridge opens, the 6000 people inconvenienced every day will soon be able to go back to their normal routine of driving straight into or out of Millersville instead of going the whole way around.

The bridge in the district has been under construction for five months. Photo by Liz Lawrence

Tons of people all over the district are excited, even if it doesn’t inconvenience them directly.

“Maybe people will start going that way instead of my way,” said Jeremy Ostberg of Willow Street.

“It’s gonna save me gas money, instead of going the whole way around,” said junior Cheyenne Weber. “It will convenience me with sports and getting to the high school.”

“My sister-in-law lives over there, so that’s the only time I go over there,” said physical education teacher David Hess. “It will be great for us because we go there for Christmas, instead of going the whole way around.”

The construction, being done by J.D. Eckman Inc, was down to it’s last step of fixing the road to the bridge and the guide rails.

“They’re still waiting for the guide rail crew to finish sometime this evening,” Penny said. “The bridge will open then but there is still work to be done.”

Penny said work on the overhang, “sort of like scaffolding” needs to be removed.

He said that work and sealing the deck of the bridge will have to wait until December, probably the week of Dec. 6.

“A lot of the guys on the crew go hunting,” said Penny.  “So two days in December half the bridge (one lane) will be down in order to power wash the sealer and let it dry.”

He said the construction company would have to pay $3,500 in “liquidation damages” for every day past Nov. 20 that the bridge isn’t open.

For the most part, the construction project has proceeded routinely.

“I’m not aware of any construction problems,” said Penny, about the project’s time line.

The one big setback the workers faced throughout the last couple months of working on the bridge was when a 70-year-old elderly man died when he missed the warning signs and tried to walk across the bridge at 9 p.m. one night.

Police estimated the man had been in the water 20 to 25 minutes, according to a published report in Lancaster Newspapers.
By Liz Lawrence