Residents in two neighboring suburbs north of Philadelphia are set to celebrate Monday the reopening of Greenwood Avenue Bridge.
“It cut us off,” said Jenkintown Borough Manager George Locke. “We felt the pinch more than we thought we would.”
PennDOT demolished the previous bridge, which was built in 1939 and linked Jenkintown to Cheltenham Township, in June 2012. Crews spent the next two years constructing its replacement, which passes over SEPTA’s Jenkintown-Wyncote station and connects West and Glenside avenues.
“This is a new bridge that is going to serve the transportation needs of the Cheltenham and Jenkintown communities for the next century,” said Eugene Blaum, PennDOT spokesman. “Barring anything unforeseen, the plan is to open the bridge Monday.”
The Greenwood Avenue Bridge will serve nearly 9,000 vehicles a day. The structure will have a single lane of traffic traveling in both directions and an 11-foot-wide left turn lane at each end, he said. Pedestrians can walk the bridge on the 5-foot-wide sidewalk on either side.
The $5.5 million construction project took about nine months longer than PennDOT initially estimated, party because a temporary bridge needed to be constructed to hold various utility lines, Blaum added.
The delay frustrated many community members, who dealt with increased traffic congestion.
“Being able to go out to Route 309 without sitting through bumper to bumper traffic,” Locke said, “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Along with adding at least another 20 minutes to Locke’s commute, the 2-year-long closure also contributed to one well-liked local business, Linda Jean’s Grille, closing its doors.
“They had a lot of business coming from Jenkintown,” said Harvey Portner, president of the Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners. “Both the Jenkintown folks and we are very upset about it.”
PennDOT is currently putting the finishing touches, including painting traffic lines, installing signs and pouring decorative concrete caps, on the bridge.
Crews will complete some additional work, like staining the stone façade to match other stone walls in the community, after the bridge reopens, Blaum said. But it is unlikely that traffic will be impacted, he added.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Monday. Ahead of the official reopening, the two communities are holding a joint celebration, dubbed the “Greenwood Ave. Bridge Un-Block Party,” at Ralph Morgan Park Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“The bridge will benefit everyone, not only in the immediate community,” Portner said, “But everyone that takes the train out of that train station.”