Long distance runaround

By on April 27, 2018

Route 772 bridge replacement to create a nearly 10-mile detour

The Route 772 bridge at Warwick Road accommodates several thousand daily trips across Lititz Run.

Unfortunately, those who typically navigate that route face a long, frustrating detour when the bridge closes for replacement this summer. Township Manager Daniel Zimmerman said the bridge is expected to be completely closed for at least 70 days between June and late August. The Route 772 bridge on Rothsville Road spans Lititz Run between South Heck Road and Warwick Road. It is one of two routes used by drivers to get to and from Lititz and Rothsville, Zimmerman said during Warwick Township supervisors meeting on April 18.

Workers are currently doing prep work cutting trees along Rothsville Road and near Lititz Run. The project is part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, intended to replace aging bridges designated at risk.

The Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is a public-private partnership with the consortium of Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is taking advantage of the new P3 tool, signed into law in 2012, to address more than 4,500 structurally deficient bridges in the state.

The initiative seeks to replace 558 older bridges throughout Pennsylvania with new, modern structures, so that they can be removed from the structurally deficient list. The project targets mainly crossings on smaller state highways, often in rural areas, like the Route 772 bridge.

“Motorists will be greatly impacted by the closure,” said Zimmerman, noting that Route 772 is a state highway, not a township road. A letter from PennDOT indicated that closure and construction of the bridge would not begin until school is out for the summer, so as not to affect school bus transportation. That should be around the second week of June. From then on, the bridge will be completely closed and is not expected to reopen until the end of August, or up to 75 days. During that time drivers will be directed to follow a 9.5 mile detour route along Route 501, Route 772 and Route 272, which could add up to 15 minutes to the trip.

The Route 772 bridge over Lititz Run in Warwick Township will be closed from June until at least mid August.                              Photo by Laura Knowles

“We already have another 9,000 trips each day on Newport Road,” said Zimmerman, noting that some drivers may opt to take that route as an alternative. One way or another, drivers who use the Route 772 bridge will be dealing with delays and traffic as they try to make their way to and from Lititz via Rothsville. Another traffic headache for some Warwick Township residents is on Snyder Hill Road, where motorcycles and cars have been traveling at high rates of speed. A resident of Snyder Hill Road attended the meeting to express his concerns about speeders.

“Too many people are using it like it’s a superhighway,” said Frederick Kurtz, reporting that cars, motorcycles and other vehicles travel at speeds as high as 60 mph on the narrow country road that is lined with houses.

Supervisors told Kurtz that they would notify the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department and ask that they set up analysis and speed enforcement on Snyder Hill Road.

“Unfortunately, police are not allowed to use radar,” noted Zimmerman, adding that only Pennsylvania State Police are able to enforce speeding with radar. Zimmerman also reported that the Lititz Ephrata Rail Trail path is on target for completion. The steel and concrete bridge is underway, crossing the Cocalico Creek. The Rail Trail connects Lititz to Ephrata on a 8.2-mile section of the abandoned Reading and Columbia Railroad, which dates back to 1863.

Zimmerman reported that there are five restroom stations along the trail, making it one of the best-equipped rail trails in the area. There are several parking areas along the trail. The trail is open from dawn to dusk, and is already being well used by hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers, joggers and wheelchair users. A shared bicycle rental program that started last year, with bikes docked in an open shed near the township building is operated by the Lititz Bike Works and uses a payment system and computer support for the Bike Share program.

“As soon as the weather gets nice, we expect to see many more people using the trail,” said Zimmerman.

In other business, supervisors approved the use of township roads for the 23rd annual Freshburst Five-Mile Run sponsored by Johnson & Johnson on July 7, and the Lititz recCenter’s Pretzel Twist Run on September 22. The board also approved a partial reduction of the letter of credit for the Whitmer Tract housing project.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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