New bridges linking Birdsboro, Exeter open to motorists

New bridges linking Birdsboro, Exeter open to motorists

BIRDSBORO, Pa. - Friday was the day drivers in the Birdsboro area had been waiting for.

A two-year bridge replacement project has finally reached the end of the road.

"It is nice. Real nice," said Todd Riegel, a driver.

Todd Riegel is one of the many drivers rejoicing after the new bridges carrying Route 345 between Birdsboro and Exeter Township opened.

"Looks a lot better. 100 percent better," said Ralph Wagner.

The new bridges over the Norfolk Southern Railroad in Exeter and the Schuylkill River in Birdsboro are replacing the old one right beside it.

Borough officials got a shock in 2008 when PennDOT inspectors discovered the supports were rapidly deteriorating.

"I know it was in bad shape. I know different people who went snowmobiling under it and said you can look up and you could see the holes through the other one," said Riegel.

So in August 2012, the $14,547,827 project began. Drivers have had to battle the construction for two years.

"It is kind of tough getting back and forth. This is the only way I know to get over here is to cross the bridge. So hopefully it will make it easier," said Charlie Long, a driver.

But many said it was well worth the wait.

"It is about time. The other bridge was really decaying and with all the heavy truck traffic that runs through here, it was nice to see this project get scheduled and completed," said Brian Baker, a driver.

"We really needed it. That bridge is shot. So it is about time they got this one straightened out," said Barry Wunderlich, a driver.

Crews still have to begin tearing down the old structurally deficient bridge. They also plan to upgrade the traffic signals at West Main and Furnace streets along with installing new signs and pavement markings.

All of the work is expected to be complete by November 2015.

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