Update on Route 724 Bridge Project in Chester County

By Rep. Tim Hennessey, chairman - House Transportation Committee

I have received several calls from constituents concerning the bridge on Route 724 in North Coventry Township, Chester County, which was severely damaged by flooding last summer in Tropical Storm Ida and needs to be replaced. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) closed the bridge on Sept. 30. Here is where the project stands as of this writing: 

According to PennDOT, the Route 724 bridge is scheduled to be closed until June 2022. PennDOT is seeking federal approval to access emergency federal funds, which would pay for the bulk of the replacement. PennDOT has also sought out an engineering firm to design the new bridge and expedite its construction.

To meet current requirements, PennDOT may need to obtain temporary construction easements. Also required is/are separate federal approval(s) because the bridge was located within the boundaries of the Laurel Locks National Historical District, which requires PennDOT to provide assurances that the bridge work will not compromise any historically-identified assets in the Register.

There is also concern that the creek at this location (Eckers Creek) may be subject to certain in-stream restrictions, which would normally prohibit any disturbance of the stream between March 1 and June 15, 2022. PennDOT is applying for a waiver of those in-stream restrictions to allow construction to begin in March.

Waterway permits are also being sought from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to authorize this construction, based upon engineering reports about the hydraulic effects on the stream, both pre-construction and post-construction.
With all these regulatory requirements, what initially seemed like “a small bridge replacement” can become a regulatory nightmare.

Being chairman of the House Transportation Committee does not allow me to waive or sidestep any regulations in place, each of which have their own rationale for being there. However, since the tropical storm hit our area and did so much damage, I have been in continuous contact with PennDOT’s district officials and engineers to emphasize the need to expedite every step of the process and I will continue to do all I can to keep this project on track.