PennDOT hopes to finish 741 Bridge construction in November

The fact that Village Road is currently a dead end isn’t news to anyone who lives in Strasburg. The 5,400 vehicles that traversed the bridge spanning the Pequea Creek daily have mostly been rerouted either down Penn Grant Road or out onto the Strasburg Pike since April. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but bus drivers and students on the way to school will argue that the extra cars on the road make a huge difference. 

Village Road Bridge before the closure. PENNDOT
expects the route to reopen no later than mid-November.
Image courtesy of Google Maps
As always, the community is annoyed by the disturbance that the road block causes, especially because it directly follows the renovations of the Strasburg Pike Bridge. Strangers turn around in frustrated residents’ driveways, bus drivers navigate different bus routes, and the detour uses up precious time (especially if you’re running late to homeroom!) and gas. However, PennDOT deemed the old bridge structurally deficient, and consequently had to make repairs.

The old one lane bridge was originally built in 1923, a time in which roads were only beginning to experience the surfeit of motor vehicles. Now, nearly one hundred years later, PennDOT declared the bridge unsafe. They signed a contract for a $2.6 million project to replace the Village Road Bridge that included the renovation of the Strasburg Pike Bridge. In order to totally replace the bridge after the road closed, the old one was excavated. To construct the new bridge, concrete must be set, steel beams placed, and the super structure completed. The new bridge will be a standard two lane bridge, which is sure to help with traffic as well as safety on the winding road.

According to Walt Eckerd, a transportation manager for PennDOT, the road could be open by the end of November. However, if circumstances are not favorable, the project could stretch into January.

In the mean time, residents must continue to utilize detours.
The bridge is expected to re-open some time around the start of winter
"I work in Strasburg, and I have to go the whole other way," says Maggie Hansson, a senior. "It's annoying. Also, it really affects business."

According to Google Maps, the trip from the west end of Strasburg to L-S High School utilizing Penn Grant Road and then Bridge Road takes seven minutes and spans 3.2 miles, whereas taking the Strasburg Pike takes eight minutes for a 4.4 mile trip. 

In contrast, taking Village Road/PA-741 straight through takes only four minutes for a 2.4 mile trip, which means that the officially sanctioned detour (Strasburg Pike) covers 83% more distance, and takes double the amount of time. Even if one makes only one trip from Strasburg to the high school each day, that adds up to 486 extra miles and 16.2 extra hours traveled during the course of the construction (assuming it concludes by the end of November), which could amount to over $50 in additional gas expenditures -- for students, that is not an insignificant amount.

The District's transportation has also experienced consequences of the transportation, although Mr. Jeff Landis, transportation coordinator, says that thanks to advance communication with the contractor, most inconvenience has been allayed.

"A handful of students living along the 1000-1400 Blocks of Penn Grant Road, the 1300-1500 Blocks of Village Road, and Edisonville Road have experienced longer bus rides due to the detour," says Landis, discussing the biggest consequence with the detour.

"We anticipate the bridge to re-open in mid-November, if not sooner.  We are awaiting final word from the contractor."

--Alyssa Van Lenten, Local Editor and Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief

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