“You just have to think ahead.”

Chipped concrete reveals rebar skeletonA new bridge is planned for Fairfield Road in Hamiltonban Township. Or maybe Highland Township (as it appears to be on the county’s online map.) There seems to be some question which end of the bridge is the municipal line, but it is a state road, and therefore a state bridge,

A look underneath the existing structure reveals a need for some repair — not immediately, but soon.

Part of the delay is about the detour that will be required. PennDOT and the company with which it is working has decided that there is less cost in removing the entire structure and building a new one. Thus, the direct route between Gettysburg and Fairfield, according to current plan, will be closed for about 10 weeks.

Since PennDOT owns and maintains the road and its bridges, detours must, where possible, follow other PennDOT routes. For travelers between Gettysburg and Fairfield, it’s an additional 5.5 miles. For school buses and emergency vehicles, though, the detour represents 11 miles from one end of the span to the other.

Dan Galvin, spokesman for Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners – the private half of a public-private partnership with PennDOT to replace 558 state-owned bridges – told the Gettysburg Times last week “local folks know” whether other, shorter, detours may be followed, though the roads may be less then suitable for some large vehicles.

The “late August” start date is at least partially predicated on PennDOT’s obtaining additional Rights of Way from abutting landowners. Design of the new structure includes the potential need for a third lane sometime during the span’s intended 100-year lifespan. “If at some point the state does come in and add a lane, the bridge won’t have to be widened,” Galvin, said, “You just have to think ahead.”

The idea is not as far-fetched as it might at first seem.

At the west end of Fairfield Borough, is the seed of a shopping center. Half of the complex already exists – medical office space, a Dollar General, a bank and a combination gas station and convenience store. Across the road, a 17-acre parcel is set to host Iron Springs Plaza, anchored by a yet to be named grocery store.

The intersection between the two commercial complexes will be controlled by the first traffic light in southwestern Adams County. The Y-intersection of Fairfield and Iron Springs Road will be squared off; instead of stopping to wait for an opening in traffic, drivers will wait for the green light.

Already, Fairfield Area School district has asked Hamiltonban Township’s help in controlling traffic to make it easier for students and buses to enter Route 116 as they attempt to leave at the end of the school day.

A commercial strip from Bulldog Road, through Fairfield to Iron Springs Road, maybe beyond that to the cemetery, is not as far-fetched an idea as it might at first seem. Hamiltonban Township leaders have been reviewing a new zoning ordinance, and some of the discussion has included possible expansion of the township’s commercial opportunities – probably along Fairfield Road from Bullfrog to Iron Springs, maybe beyond.

Thus the potential for a third lane from the Muddy Run bridge to Bullfrog Road.

When I arrived in Gettysburg nearly 20 years ago, there was a traffic light on York Road at the Walmart. Now there are seven lights between the Giant that did not exist on that road and the Harley-Davidson dealer that also was not yet built.

That’s the thing about roads, desktops and residential garages. There always is more stuff than capacity, no matter how large you make them.

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