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News: North Hopewell Township Wins Road and Bridge Award

April 19, 2016

Ginni Linn
Executive Editor/Print Manager
Office: (717) 763-0930, ext. 127

Dusty Grove
North Hopewell Township Chairman
(717) 246-2398

North Hopewell Township Wins Statewide Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Award

North Hopewell Township in York County was named the bridge corunner-up of the 34th Annual Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Awards, presented at the 94th Annual Educational Conference of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) in Hershey April 17-20, 2016. The conference attracted attendees from every county in Pennsylvania except Philadelphia, which has no townships. North Hopewell Township won the award for a bridge replacement project that uses new technology.

PSATS sponsors the statewide Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Contest each year in partnership with the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) and the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to recognize townships for their extensive contributions of time and effort in making roads and bridges safer.

North Hopewell Township decided to replace a single-lane bridge on Cherry Street after it was severely damaged during a storm in June 2014. The county bridge engineer determined that the structure was compromised to the point of failure, and township engineer Jason Snyder closed that bridge and two others that had also been damaged.

The bridge closure limited access to the county’s Spring Valley Park and also affected the local fire company’s ability to provide emergency services to the park and nearby residents. While the township pursued grants for the three damaged bridges, the Cherry Street structure suffered further damage. One of the wing walls had collapsed completely and tree roots protruded through the resulting void, the western abutment was cracked horizontally above the water line, and the stream was flowing on both sides of the abutment.

The township focused its attention on the Cherry Street bridge and decided to use the relatively new-to-Pennsylvania technique known as the geosynthetic reinforced soil-integrative bridge system, or GRS-IBS. This alternative bridge construction technique can be done faster with municipal equipment and manpower and for a fraction of the cost of a conventional bridge.

GRS-IBS is a form of accelerated bridge construction that uses alternating layers of compacted granular fill and sheets of geotextile fabric to provide support for the structure. Rather than installing a poured concrete foundation and walls, this method builds up the substructure in a faster, simpler way, similar to making a layer cake.

“We liked the lower cost factor and being able to use our own manpower and equipment,” North Hopewell Township chairman Dusty Grove says. “The township had already installed a GRS bridge on another road. Once you learn the ‘tricks’ of how to do it, it goes pretty fast.”

The shorter construction period was especially welcome to township residents, he says. Although Cherry Street is not a high-traffic route, a lot of people use it as a shortcut to get to Interstate 83.

The township officials and road crew like the GRS-IBS technique so much that they plan to use it to replace two more bridges if and when the township can secure grants to help offset the costs.

“Our goal is to cut expense but not quality,” Grove says. “We try to use the limited resources we have the best way we can.”

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The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,454 townships of the second class and is committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class cover 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s land mass and represent more residents — 5.5 million — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.