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News: South Park Township Wins Road and Bridge Award

April 19, 2016

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

Karen Fosbaugh
South Park Twp. Manager
(412) 831-7000

South Park Township Wins Statewide Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Award

South Park Township in Allegheny County was named the bridge winner 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. South Park Township won the award for a bridge replacement project on McElheny Road.

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.

Annual inspections of the 46-year-old, two-lane bridge on McElheny Road revealed that the structure had been deteriorating for about 15 years.

“PennDOT kept reducing the allowable weight and eventually limited the bridge to one lane,” township manager Karen Fosbaugh says. “At the time that we replaced it, it had a three-ton weight limit and was facing possible closure within a year.”

McElheny Road not only connects South Park Township with adjacent Jefferson Hills Borough but also serves as an access route for more than 1,000 employees of a federal research facility located in the township. Due to the bridge’s posted weight limit, fire and emergency vehicles and even township snow plows could not use it, making it difficult for them to provide essential services to township residents.

Because the bridge is shared equally by the township and adjacent Jefferson Hills Borough, the township supervisors approached borough officials in 2013 about a joint project to replace the bridge. They approved a memorandum of understanding to pool their resources to fund the project the following year. Construction began in September 2014 and was completed last May.

The new bridge consists of four composite, prestressed spread box beams and a concrete deck. The structure was widened slightly to accommodate trucks. The project also involved reconstructing the cheek walls, installing new guide rail, repaving the approaches, realigning a drainage ditch, and installing new signage.

“We are quite pleased with the result,” Fosbaugh says. “The residents are happy, and the fire and ambulance companies are very pleased that they don’t have to take longer routes to respond to emergencies.”

Fosbaugh is quick to emphasize that the township could not have done this project alone. The agreement with Jefferson Hills Borough enabled both municipalities to get a new bridge without busting either one’s budget. A $100,000 grant from the Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund was split equally to help offset each community’s share of the costs.

“We worked as a team to bring this project to fruition,” Fosbaugh says. “This is an example of government at its best, working together for the good of the people.”

* * *

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.