News

Susquehanna River bridge closure is major disruption for some residents, businesses

Written by Ted Czech, York Daily Record / Sunday News | Sep 30, 2015 9:30 AM
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PennDOT and consultants inspect additional spans on Tuesday September 29, 2015 after a crack was found Monday and the Norman Wood Bridge was closed. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

(York) -- Elizabeth Hooper was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, and since then, has traveled to her doctor in Lancaster once every month, using the Norman Wood Bridge from her home in Lower Chanceford Township.

But as of Monday, with the abrupt closing of the Rt. 372 bridge, her commute time just quadrupled.

"I can't get to my doctor; it's in Quarryville," she said as her car was serviced at White's Auto Repair on Delta Road. "I need to get over there every month."

An inspection of the bridge -- moved earlier to avoid the breeding season for falcons in the area -- revealed an 8-foot-long crack on Monday, prompting its immediate closure.

As her car was serviced, Hooper, 47, wondered how such a large crack in the bridge could suddenly appear, after going undetected.

"I don't know why they didn't know about this before -- nobody looks at these bridges?" she said. "They've (politicians) got to look out for us. Isn't that where our tax dollars are going?"

On Tuesday morning, signs leading to the intersection of Delta Road and Route 372 in Lower Chanceford Township warned drivers of the bridge's closure.

Residents and business owners nearby said the closure will trigger a loss of commerce and a disruption in the commute to Lancaster County.

Sherryl Ream, a server at the Delta Family Restaurant, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland line in Peach Bottom Township, estimated that what used to take 20 minutes to travel over the Route 372 bridge, will now take close to an hour-and-a-half with the detour.

Drivers can head south and cross the Conowingo Dam in Maryland, or north and cross at Wrightsville.

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PennDOT and consultants inspect additional spans on Tuesday September 29, 2015 after a crack was found Monday and the Norman Wood Bridge was closed. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

Ream, 43, said many York County residents enjoy going to Good's store and CR Lapp's restaurant in Quarryville across the river.

In addition, "We get a lot of people from Lancaster," she said of the restaurant.

Ream thought that until the issue with the bridge was resolved, people in Lancaster would stay on their side, and York County residents would stay on their side, unless they absolutely had to make the trip.

"My dentist is across the river," Ream said. "I really hope it re-opens before I have to go."

Restaurant patron Richard Herring, 67, of nearby Whiteford, Md., recalled the bridge's dedication in 1968.

"We're back to where we were in '68 -- the only way to get across is the Conowingo Dam or Wrightsville," he said.

Herring said an Amish buggy was the first vehicle allowed over the bridge during its opening ceremony, in which the Solanco High School Band played from Lancaster County.

The Amish were also mentioned by Delta Discount manager Mike Sommer. With a significant population on both sides of the bridge, Sommer thought the group would be severely hampered by the closure.

"We do get a lot of traffic from Lancaster; the Amish come across the bridge," he said. "I don't think they'll be venturing to Delta for a while."

Sommer said that since the bridge was only closed on Monday, he was unsure how it would affect sales at the store.

With the closure expected to impact so many people and businesses, "I'm interested to see how fast they work to get it repaired," he said.

James Rife, a semi-retired farmer from Stewartstown, said he often uses the bridge to produce auctions and to get parts for his equipment.

"I take hay over there too," he said.

However, Rife said he would find alternatives to continue his business activities.

"I'll have to get my produce someplace else," he said.

Video: PennDOT engineer describes crack in detail during inspection on Tuesday. 

Related

Large crack closes bridge.

Here are alternate routes.

Photo gallery


This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in York

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