Rte 41/Pennsylvania Ave Bridge

Avondale Borough recently learned that the repairs to the bridge on Rte 41/Pennsylvania Ave, that were previously slated for 2024-25, have been postponed. The Mayor and Council will be meeting with various elected officials, PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration later this week but we recently submitted our public comment and are sharing this here and on our website for transparency. If you’d like to add your public comment they are due by 5 pm this Tuesday, June 28th. you can submit at this link https://www.dvrpc.org/tip/draft

Our public comment is below:

Public Comment Regarding the Bridge On Rt 41/Pennsylvania Ave In Avondale Borough

Avondale Borough Council and I, the Mayor of Avondale Borough, respectfully submit our concerns that the bridge on Pennsylvania Ave in Avondale Borough was recently removed from the TIP list for repair/replacement. We find this omission by PennDOT and DVRPC very concerning.

In 2018, this bridge was listed as being in poor condition with a “5” rating. As of 2022 the data shows that the bridge had deteriorated to a “4” rating.  The data shows a forecast for the bridge dropping to a “3” rating by 2025.  This bridge is in a state of deterioration. 1. These are national ratings2.  Removing this bridge from the DVRPC/PennDOT list is dangerous.

When the current Council and I took office in January 2022, we had a meeting with PennDOT during which we were told that the bridge was on the calendar for repair or replacement in 2024 – 2025. As far as we knew, until the current TIP list came out, that was the plan. This bridge is in poor condition, and if it fails it will be catastrophic for the entire region. It could cause serious injury and would significantly impact commercial and personal transportation. 

According to PennDOT’s reports, “The most recent bridge inspection report noted the superstructure, substructure, and deck are all in poor condition. Stream channel impacts are anticipated to be limited to the immediate vicinity of the existing bridge site because the improved bridge will closely match the existing bridge in length and width.” 

To us, it seems that we are all in agreement this bridge must be repaired. 

After learning the bridge was not listed on the current TIP, I reached out to PennDOT for clarification. Only at that point was I told that PennDOT would not move forward because they are now in conflict with the Historic Commission. I spoke with the Historic Commission; they haven’t received any documentation from PennDOT since 2021. The letter from the State Historic Preservation Office reads: “Therefore, in our opinion, the boundary at the south and east of the Avondale Historic District should continue to extend to White Clay Creek based on the information provided and available within our files.”

The 1999 designation of the historic district extends to the boundary formed by White Clay Creek but does not include White Clay Creek itself. Therefore, the bridge is not included in the historic district. Additionally, when it was necessary to replace the bridge on State Street – a structure entirely within the historic district – the historic district designation did not impede the work and the bridge was completed.

Regardless of whether or not this bridge is in the historic district, it is in poor condition; PennDOT has narrowed its width because of safety concerns. This bridge must be repaired sooner rather than later. We believe that by taking this bridge off of the TIP list for 2024 – 2025, PennDOT is putting people and commerce in danger. We request that the bridge on Rt 41(Pennsylvania Avenue) be returned to the TIP list for repair or replacement immediately, and that work begins at the earliest possible opportunity.

1 https://infobridge.fhwa.dot.gov/Data/BridgeDetail/22744188

2 https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/britab.cfm

Respectfully,

Susan Rzucidlo, Mayor

Paul Morgan, Borough Council President

Stephanie Reichert, Borough Council Vice President

Mike Essmaker, Borough Council Member

Fernando Tena-Diaz, Borough Council Member

Janet Watts, Borough Council Member

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