Construction begins Monday on a $3.9 million project to improve Route 32 in Solebury Township, according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) spokesperson Charles Metzger.
Work will focus on replacing a 1,300-foot-long deteriorated retaining wall, and rebuilding the state roadway in the area of the wall. Metzger said lane restrictions will be in effect until Nov. 11 for the initial “design build and core boring,” and a PennDOT press release said Route 32 will be closed and detoured during the entire construction process, which is expected to last until June 2016.
The posted detour will take passenger vehicles over Route 263 (Upper York Road), Aquetong Road, and Greenhill Road. Trucks will be detoured over U.S. 202 and Route 611. Local access will be maintained up to the construction area on Route 32, according to the PennDOT press release.
PennDOT said it intends to restore the “structural stability” of Route 32 between the intersections of Paxson Road and Laurel Road by building a new retaining wall made of concrete panels and steel piles to replace the existing wall, which has been “severely damaged” by floods. Crews will reconstruct and resurface 1,450 feet of Route 32; improve drainage by installing 24 new storm inlets and more than 1,200 feet of storm sewers; replace two existing drain pipes; construct four storm water outlets; install curb along the retaining wall; and add new guide rail and traffic signs, according to PennDOT.
Separately, work on the Stockton Avenue bridge in New Hope, closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic since Oct. 19, doesn’t seem to be a top priority for the General Services Division of Bucks County, although work is supposed to be completed by Dec. 2.
While one or two county workers were spotted using a jackhammer on a small area of road surface during the week of Oct. 19, no work was observed during the week of Oct. 26.
Said one West Ferry Street resident on Friday, “They haven’t even been here all week. Two guys stood around staring at the bridge this morning, then left.”
Gerald Anderson, Director of Operations of the General Services Division for the Bucks County Commissioners, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In the fall of 2014, Bucks County workers blocked one of two sidewalks on the Stockton Avenue bridge, which serves as a vital, high-use connection between the northern and southern residential areas of the borough. The entire bridge was closed by Bucks County authorities Oct. 19.
Last September, Anderson said, “The sidewalk in question can only be fixed from below because damage runs through a supporting pylon.” Anderson also indicated that construction of the Canal Street development necessitated permission from builder George Michael and/or a townhouse owner or two to move equipment to the base of the bridge.
“It takes time to get a solution on how we get down there, and unfortunately that has taken time,” said Anderson. “It’s not a matter of priority. Bucks County likes to fix all its problems, but it takes a long time because of laws to bid it out.”
Bucks County spokesperson Chris Edwards said on Sept. 10, 2014, “We have 115 bridges. We’re trying to prioritize.”