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Collapse of stone arch bridge leads to detour for Pa. motorists

April 05, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MARION, Pa. - The collapse of a large chunk of a 19th century double stone arch bridge over the Conocoheague Creek on Social Island Road will send motorists on a five-mile detour for at least the next two months, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday.

Neither PennDOT officials nor Pennsylvania State Police could explain why a section of the south side of the bridge fell into the creek around 4:30 p.m. Monday. It left a large hole in the bridge.

Detour signs direct traffic off U.S. 11 south of Social Island Road west onto Lehman Road, then right onto Guitner Road. Signs from there lead drivers to Pa. 995, said David Rock, manager of PennDOT's Franklin County maintenance garage in Chambersburg, Pa.

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A press release issued by PennDOT suggested the bridge may have been struck by a hit-and-run vehicle, but state police said they have no evidence that such an incident occurred.

The bridge was closed to traffic Tuesday.

Samantha Frey, whose home borders the creek, was in her yard when the bridge collapsed. She heard a loud noise as the huge stones crashed into the creek, she said.

"It's lucky there wasn't anyone on the bridge," Frey said.

She blamed the collapse on vibrations from dozens of heavy trucks that pass over the span every day.

"I've been trying for a long time to get the state to put a load limit on the bridge," she said.

PennDOT officials estimate that 2,200 cars and trucks pass over the bridge daily.

Social Island Road, which runs west off U.S. 11 about six miles north of Greencastle, Pa., connects Guilford and Hamilton townships.

Rock said repairing stone arch bridges presents a challenge for PennDOT's bridge crew.

"It will never look exactly the same as it did before, but it will look good when it's done," Rock said. "Our bridge crew does an excellent job."

The preliminary work will take as much time as repairing the damage, Rock said.

"We'll have to build a temporary road up to the creek to get equipment in to get the stones out," he said.

Rock said there has been talk of replacing the bridge with a modern span for more than the 17 years he has been with PennDOT.

He said it is one of about six stone arch bridges built in the 19th century still in service in Franklin County.

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