Lo and behold! Morrisville project begins
Much to our surprise – and it’s a pleasant one at that – preliminary work has begun on a project to replace the bridge and railroad overpass on Route 19/21 in the Franklin Township community of Morrisville.
We have believed for a long time that this project, which has been labeled as the “Morrisville Project”, would never be initiated. The reason? It has been on the state Department of Transportation long-range planning schedule for more than 20 years.
To put this in perspective, someone who was born when this endeavor landed on PennDOT’s schedule would now be in college.
But, lo and behold, in July, PennDOT awarded a contract for the project to a Mt. Pleasant firm that submitted a low bid of $15 million. But before the celebratory trumpets can be sounded, keep in mind what is occurring is preliminary work will probably include removing trees and brush from the construction area, a PennDOT spokesman said.
This phase of the project, which is expected to take up to three years to complete, will involve widening the road from Arch Street to Sugar Run Road to four lanes and replacing the railroad overpass and the bridge over Ten Mile Creek, which are two lanes each, with new four-lane structures. Lane and signal modifications also will be made to the Sugar Run Road intersection.
And all this will be done without a regular detour.
Highway traffic will be maintained during construction by building two lanes of the new bridge next to the old bridge and transferring traffic to the new section while the old bridge is demolished and two new lanes are built in its place. PennDOT also must maintain rail service and will build a new railroad overpass west of the existing overpass will allow four lanes of traffic to pass beneath it.
The new overpass will be used by trains until the original overpass is widened to four lanes. Both overpasses will remain in place to allow Norfolk Southern to operate two tracks in the area. This sounds like a very ambitious undertaking to not require any detours, especially in an area where traffic bottlenecks even when no construction is taking place.
Remember, these improvements are intended to make it easier just to get into Morrisville. The subsequent phases of the project would involve increasing the number of lanes through Morrisville.
And those issues, PennDOT said, are expected to be considered later – and “later” is a word we have heard too often in connection with this project.