Motorists, get prepared: Closure of the Frog’s Hollow bridge on state Route 72 over the Swatara Creek is set to occur in mid-April, pending weather and the contractor’s schedule.

PennDOT will provide 10 to 14 days’ notice before work on the bridge will begin and detours go into place. Traffic will be routed onto state Route 343.

(Google Maps)

The new bridge should open in November, according to PennDOT.

Cost of the project is almost $5 million and includes replacement of the existing structure, drainage upgrades and minor roadway reconstruction, according to a PennDOT press release. Susquehanna Valley Construction of New Cumberland was awarded the contract.

South of Jonestown, the bridge built in 1930 is a two-span arch structure with a center pier in the Swatara Creek. The concrete deck is narrow — each lane is 12 feet wide — and there are no shoulders.

While the abutments supporting the ends of the bridge do not show structural issues, the concrete arches are deteriorating. So are the bridge’s concrete parapets or safety barriers. 

Read More: Frog’s Hollow bridge isn’t falling down, but it does need to be replaced

Additionally, some sections are missing entirely — which creates a safety concern if a vehicle were to hit the barrier, said David Thompson, PennDOT press office, in an email.

The chances of an impact are considerable given the traffic on the road averages 9,685 vehicles daily, which PennDOT considers “very high,” Thompson noted.

Some of the deterioration is simply age. But floodwaters in 2011, which flowed over the bridge, also took a toll.

“When the Swatara Creek overtopped this structure in 2011, sections of the parapet were lost,” said Adam Wright, PennDOT District 8 project manager, in an email. “This is when the concrete barrier was placed across the bridge so the road could be re-opened.”

While PennDOT may have been able to construct a new barrier, it would not have been an efficient use of money to try and retain a nearly 100-year-old structure, according to Thompson. 

“It makes more sense to replace the whole thing and get more appropriate shoulder widths at the same time,” he added. 

The new bridge will consist of prestressed concrete beams, a concrete deck, and concrete abutments/piers. Final asphalt paving will occur in spring 2025.

Motorists who routinely travel the bridge may have already noted signs of work. During the winter, trees were trimmed and utilities relocated in preparation, Thompson noted. 

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