Sewickley and Moon Township could be left footing some of the bill for extra traffic control when the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge shuts down in about two weeks.
Sewickley Manager Kevin Flannery told council Tuesday night that the borough recently received a letter indicating reimbursements may not be available for providing extra manpower, although additional traffic control will be needed once the bridge closes.
The Sewickley Bridge has been designated as the alternative detour route when the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge closes March 3 as part of a $16.6 million repair project. Repairs are slated to be complete in mid-November.
Jim Struzzi, PennDOT spokesman, said today there was funding in the contract to provide assistance with traffic control costs.
“We are working out the details with the police departments involved,” Struzzi said.
Flannery said a meeting with PennDOT officials is expected to take place early next week.
Without a reimbursement, Council President Robert Hague said, Sewickley won’t be able to absorb the extra traffic control costs.
One solution that would have the least impact on the department involves keeping an officer from midnight and daylight shifts for several hours of overtime, Flannery said.
On an average day, PennDOT estimates about 12,588 vehicles use the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, which carries vehicles over the Ohio River from Route 51 in Aliquippa to 11th Street in Ambridge.
Flannery and Sewickley Police Chief James Ersher have had discussions with Moon Manager Jeanne Creese and Police Chief Leo McCarthy about increased traffic. It’s not just the Sewickley Bridge that will need additional traffic control, but also Chestnut and Walnut streets. Moon Township has indicated it will need traffic controls on Stoops Ferry Road and Thorn Run.
Flannery said officials studied traffic patterns and found the bridge lights only accommodate 64 cars at a time in both directions.
Struzzi said traffic signal timing will be changed at some of the intersections on the detour route so that intersections operate differently than they do now.
“Often with a closure of this magnitude and duration, the exact specifics of what will be needed to maintain traffic flow are not fully known until the detour is implemented,” Struzzi said. “Motorists may find alternate routes and adjustments will need to be made. We will do what is right for the traveling public to maintain traffic.”
When it comes to alternative routes, Sewickley officials anticipate some southbound motorists will attempt to bypass the bridge by turning left at Hazel Lane in Edgeworth.
Valley Ambulance Authority will also be stationed at the municipal building during the weekdays and at the hospital at other times in case of emergencies.