GREENFIELD — After several years of planning, county officials have finally broken ground on a bridge project they said will address traffic-flow issues, flooding and accidents along a well-traveled Greenfield thoroughfare.
Traffic has been blocked on Morristown Pike between county roads 100S and 300S as Hancock County road crews work to build a new bridge over Little Brandywine Creek, said Gary Pool, Hancock County highway engineer.
The new bridge will serve as a link, realigning Morristown Pike near two sharp curves at the intersections of Steele Ford Road and County Road 200S, making the roadway straighter and hopefully eliminating traffic-flow problems in the area, Pool said.
That portion of the road has been on the county’s radar for some time because accidents and flooding have increased, officials said. A federal matching grant became available three years ago and gave the county enough funding to replace the old bridge while realigning the road and making it safer.
“We’re short on money, so we try to address as many issues as we can at once,” Pool said.
Construction will redesign Morristown Pike near the intersection with Steele Ford Road, Pool said.
Rather than a curve in the road, the bridge will make the path straight and homeowners in the area will use a cul-de-sac to access their properties once construction is complete.
Morristown Pike is expected to be closed for at least 90 days, Pool said. During this time, a detour will direct drivers to use Davis Road to State Road 9 to County Road 300S as an alternative route.
Federal dollars will pay for 80 percent of the project’s overall cost, county commissioner Brad Armstrong said. The county was required to chip in 20 percent, about $1.4 million.
Grant money helped the county purchase portions of the properties needed to complete the road redesign, Armstrong said. Although construction in the area began just last week, breaking ground marks the end of years of planning, he said.
“This feels like the light at the end of the tunnel,” Armstrong said. “It takes a long time to get everything in line for projects like these. But we always try to look at the big picture; now, we can fix the bridge, redesign the road and address the flooding all at once.”
The cost of simply repairing the bridge rather than building a new one differed by about $100,000, Pool said.
Morristown Pike is dotted with stop signs, but accidents have become increasingly common there. In the past five years, three accidents have occurred at the curved intersection of Morristown Pike and County Road 200S. An additional six accidents, many involving a vehicle driving off the roadway, have occurred at Morristown Pike and Steele Ford Road.
Most of those slide-offs occurred because drivers were not paying attention to the road’s curves, said Capt. Robert Campbell, chief road patrol officer for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.
“The way the road is constructed originally was not best for today’s traffic flow,” Campbell said. “Any changes would be a tremendous help.”