Plan to replace railroad bridge moves forward

Plans are moving ahead for construction of the Loyalsock Creek railroad bridge with bids for the work to be opened June 5.

The old bridge connecting Montoursville and Loyalsock Township was destroyed by flood waters resulting from Tropical Storm Lee in September, 2011.

Mark Murawski, Lycoming County transportation planner, said the new bridge is expected to be longer and stronger than the former span, built in 1927 by Reading Railroad.

“The old bridge was 345 feet. The new one will be 470 feet. There will be less piers in the stream,” he said.

Bridge beams also will be higher from the creek, and deeper foundations will allow the bridge to better withstand flood waters.

He said he foresees no real complications in its construction to begin later this year.

Estimated completion date is May 2014, Murawski said.

Montoursville Borough Council President Robert Brobson said he was happy to see the project moving forward.

“It’s supposed to be very strong,” he said of the bridge.

Murawski said bridge construction will be coordinated with design work for the Montoursville levee project which is expected to be built just north of the Green Bridge.

He noted that there has been no interruption of railroad service since the bridge was damaged and later dismantled.

Rather, Lycoming Valley Railroad has had to use alternate track from Norfolk Southern to serve customers in eastern Lycoming County.

Funding for the $14 million project includes a $2.43 million Federal Railroad Administration grant secured by Lycoming County for SEDA-Council of Government’s Joint Railroad Authority.

Matching dollars from the Joint Rail Authority and several state sources are included in the funding.

Originally, a multi-purpose span was to be built downstream from the former bridge and to include railroad tracks, a pedestrian-bicycle path and an access road to the Williamsport Regional Airport.

That plan was scrapped following the 2011 flood when officials decided the bridge replacement project needed to be expedited.

The new bridge will be be built on the same alignment as the previous span.

The Joint Rail Authority, which owns five short line railroads comprising nearly 200 miles, is expected to select the winning contract bid for the bridge work June 12.

A pre-bid meeting is set for today.