Traffic in and out of Hellertown this summer is likely to be a bit trickier than usual, with one of the main routes on the borough’s western border shut down to a bridge replacement project.
Borough manager Cathy Hartranft confirmed Thursday that PennDOT’s replacement of the structurally deficient 81-year-old Water Street Bridge is on schedule to be completed between June and August.
During that time traffic will be detoured around the closure. The nearest bridges spanning the Saucon Creek west of Hellertown are the Walnut Street Bridge south of Water Street and the Silvex Road Bridge to its north.
“The Water Street bridge project will include signal retiming for the detour,” Hartranft said. “The contractor is to have a signal technician on their team to address signal retiming based on where the congestion is occurring on the detour route. This will allow the flexibility to address retiming at any of the intersections seeing congestion and allow adjustments throughout the duration of the project as needed.”
She added that bids for the project were to be opened at 11 a.m. Thursday.
“We should have a general contractor under contract within the coming week,” Hartranft said.
When the bridge project was under discussion several years ago, borough officials were offered two scheduling options for its replacement. One option would have kept a single lane of traffic open on Water Street throughout the project, with a much longer timeline for completion. Borough officials chose a shorter timeline with the downside that the bridge will be completely closed to traffic for approximately two months.
The current bridge is a two-lane steel I-beam bridge built in 1938 with a PennDOT overall condition rating of “poor.”
Like the current bridge, the new bridge will be two lanes wide and will have a sidewalk on one side that will connect the borough’s Water Street Park with new sidewalk that will be laid between the western end of the bridge and the intersection of Water Street (Friedensville Road) and Creek Road. From there a path leads up the hill to several large housing complexes, including the Saucon View Apartments and Society Hill.