Lights under the Anderson Ave Bridge

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dmuth's picture
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Every morning on the way to work for the last few weeks, the street under the Anderson Ave. Bridge was closed off and there appeared to be wiring work going on.  I wondered what it was about, and finally saw the results earlier tonight:

It looks very nice, and there's some obvious safety benefits to having lighting under the bridge.

But how much did it cost?  And is it worth it?  Discuss!

 

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LexoTime5's picture
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I'll have to see it in person. Looks exciting! I used to live right by there, and I would never walk under that bridge at night because it was so dark and drippy. I'd always take the SEPTA underpass.

I hope those are LED bulbs. LED bulbs are awesome. Well worth the higher price tag.

There. Discussed.

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dmuth's picture
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I hope those are LED bulbs. LED bulbs are awesome. Well worth the higher price tag.

They appeared to be from what I saw.  More expensive, but also more energy efficient, which is certainly worth the money, IMHO.

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LexoTime5's picture
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Yeah, I'm trying a couple of LEDs in my house. Pretty expensive, but they're supposed to last 15+ years and use 15-20% of the energy of a normal bulb.  And they dim nicely, unlike the CFLs which dominate my house. Even the so-called "dimable" CFLs were flickery and hummed.

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Kokomo Joe's picture
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That looks pretty cool. Might be a great spot for a rave or one of those Thriller flash mobs.

 

Who did the work?

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dmuth's picture
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I saw 2-3 electricians there in the mornings.  I don't recall the name that was on the truck, but I get the impression it was a local firm.

A quick search on the LMT website[1] turns up this document (warning: huge PDF!) which has some nice concept art.

[1] They really need to redo their search.  Either outsource it to Google or use Elastic Search or something. Their current search engine is nasty.

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Kokomo Joe's picture
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lol, dmuth, I was more interested in the designer. (I'm not gonna touch the pdf)

 

I went to the ihop last night. I wish I'd known about the bridge. I would have checked it out. I do remember remarking about all the glare and bright lights along route 30. It's getting hard for me to tell what is an approaching car and what isn't. I wish more places used color, and a little more thought.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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The concept was by Hillier Architects, the people who wanted to the Township to use eminent domain to demolish a block on the north side of Lancaster Avenue.  The lights are LED lights and some of them, like the ones on the boathouses downtown, can change color to match the occasion.  The project includes placing additional lights spelling out "Ardmore" on each side of the bridge.    There's a picture of what the finished product is supposed to look like here:  http://www.lowermerion.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=3081

The latest CIP shows the total cost at $1.152 million.  Outside funding sources included a $100,000 grant from the Montgomery County Community Revitalization Program; $518,880 from the Home Town Safe Streets Program (Pennsylvania) with additional funds ($625,000??) from PennDOT.  It isn't completely clear but it looks as if Other People's Money carried most of the load.  The Township was obligated to contribute 20%, and appropriated $100,00 for 2010 and 2011; how much the Township paid out in prior years is not readily available.  The project was first aired in 2005, and had to be put out to bid three times, so it has been a long, tortuous process.

Last time I looked, the steel supporting structures, which had been newly repainted in December 2010, were showing quite a lot of rust.

Doug is so right about the Township website search engine; it is horrible.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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LEDs last much longer than conventional bulbs or CFLs so that don't need to be replaced which is a time consumeing nuisance at home and expensive in commercial locations. I think they cost less to operate.

How did this come to cost $1.152 million? It does not seem to be that complicated a job or take that much time?

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dmuth's picture
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How did this come to cost $1.152 million? It does not seem to be that complicated a job or take that much time?

There was actually more to it than that.  Before the wiring was done, the bridge was closed in the mornings for a few weeks, with plastic coverings on both ends.  From that, and the noise, and the subsequent fresh coat of gray paint on the underside of the bridge, I'm guessing that they sandblasted off the rust and old paint and put on a fresh coat.

Makes sense to go to all the effort to repaint that before running a bunch of wires and lights up there.


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bc59's picture
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Are those lights in the video alternative colors?  That seems like it would be pretty distracting.

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politeia's picture
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I'll have to seen this in person.

I have always had out-of-town friends who visited for the first time comment on the "charm" of the towns in Lower Merion and the old style train stations.

That to me is a selling point. I'll have to see these lights in person to see if they are a nice add-on, or whether the subtract from the village feel of Ardmore and Lower Merion - and I'm not saying everyone wants an historical, village feel.

 I just happen to like it and have had a lot of people from out-of-town comment on how they like it.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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Bonnie Cook of The Inquirer likes it and links to Doug's post:  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/montco_memo/Ardmores-Anderson-Avenue-Bridge-is-all-lit-up.html

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Is the benefit worth the cost?

Are there more pressing prioirities or not?

 Why this project and not some other project?

Does anyone know, or have an opinion, to answer these questions?

I don't recall any discussion, do you?

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politeia's picture
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Like I said, I need to see this in person to judge it.

I think it is a good idea. I just wonder how the strobes of different colors look in an old railroad bridge, but it may be cool.

Cleaning this bridge on the inside and lighting it is a good idea in connecting the two parts of Ardmore, in my view.

Bob has a point, though. When did this receive public discussion? Perhaps the pork was only earmarked towards the bridge by state/federal whomever. Understand, though, that the use of OPM is just a shell game. This is not "free" money. We get taxed in LM and those taxes go to earmarks across the state and country and we get things like this in return.

The point being this ultimately did come out of our pockets even though the township states they only spend $100k of our tax dollars and got $900k in "grants".

So in reality $1 million of our tax dollars was spent on this project, and it may well have been worth it.

However, how do we know it is worth it if there was no public discussion? Are the commisisoners and township staff "all knowing"? Are they not supposed represent us in decisions like this, and shouldn't the People have a say?

Does anyone recall a public meeting on this, or was this just another secret, backroom decision?

Realize I am not knocking this project. I think it is a good idea. Cleaning and lighting the bridge for safety and as a gateway makes sense to me. However, where was the public discussion on $1 million of our tax dollars? Did I miss it, or is $1 million of our tax dollars not worthy of presenting to the peons, err, taxpayer owners of LMT?

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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There seems to be a portion of this project that was necessary: repair and maintenance of the bridge and underpass, and some portion that was discretionary: The lighting, etc.

In the past I've seen  concern posted here about how the Suburban Sqaure part of Ardmore and the Lancaster Ave business district are so disjointed, and not easy to share parking between them , etc.  This lighting project would seem to address a lot of that.

On another thread Bob has said that unnecessary construction projects are caused by unions political donations to reward the office holeders who vote on them.  Does that happen in Lower Merion? If so I hope someone like Bob will demonstrate that with hard facts rather than just another uninformed supposition.

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Narberth residents face a comparable decision. The Narberth Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks must soon be replaced. Should it be replaced with a functional, plain vanilla bridge, or should the taxpayers spend money for an architect to design a visually appealing bridge?

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LexoTime5's picture
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Thanks justcurious, but this is old news. Narberth council voted about a year ago to spend the money on the architect, and the architect and structural engineers have already done their work and delivered plans and options.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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What is the evidence that this upgrade was worth the cost?

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LexoTime5's picture
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What is the evidence that this upgrade was worth the cost?

Is there some local private entity that might have taken it upon itself to fix a bridge & underpass and illuminate it?  I think not.

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dmuth's picture
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What is the evidence that this upgrade was worth the cost?

How do we even measure the effectiveness of such things?  I'm not sure there's an easy way to measure things like "how much people like this" or "how much more money does it bring to Ardmore". :-/

 

 

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politeia's picture
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How do we even measure the effectiveness of such things? I'm not sure there's an easy way to measure things like "how much people like this" or "how much more money does it bring to Ardmore". :-/

Like I said, I think this is a good idea in general as a safety and gateway measure, but how do you "even measure the effectiveness of such things?"

Well, you have the township staff bring in foot traffic and crime results from other similar projects in other towns/cities.

You have township staff show videos of others bridges that do this to see what it looks like.

And you do this in an open, public meeting so the People can decide - not in secret and behind closed doors when it involves $1 million in tax dollars.

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Your fiscal common sense seems to be out the window. Is cost a consideration on a government project? There is a different measurement but there must be a measurement or "anything goes" when it comes to spending and this is how we got into the mess we are.

" If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." None of you, all voters, even seem willing,let alone able, to address the issue of cost/benefit or even the issue of need when it comes to a government project.

 

 

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politeia's picture
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As usual, you need to read more closely, Bob.

I stated this made sense to me for the above mentioned reasons and I questioned spending $1 million with the Poeple not being involved in the decision (read my first post in this thread).

I did not say it was worth $1 million (though it could be). I indicated that it needed to be discussed in an open, public meeting. It's not my or your place to say whether this was money worth spending. It is the place of the People.

Once again we agree, but from different angles, and because you don't like some of my political views, your ability to read my posts correctly is based on clouded judgement.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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exactly, politeia, your equivocation makes my point. You offer no measurement and the fact that the cost/benefit analysis seems nowhere to be found would, it seems to me, to mean that it was never done. As Lexo points out, this is a government project and if it only benefits and the government forces the many to pay, it is justified because a few benefit.

Generally, the proponents of spending need to justify the spending, particularly, when it is someone else's money. Your equivocation is the problem.

There is no stated cost benefit or even needs statement. It was just done because the government can do what it wants to do without asking.

Are lights under the Anderson bridge the highest priority in Lower Merion? If so, then grace has been shed upon us. I woud think not, though, that is what has been shed upon us.

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politeia's picture
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Then we agree.

Having this decision made in an open, public meeting would have caused several commissioners and the public to question things like cost, where the money is coming from, where else it might be used in a better manner, etc.

Just because I think this is a good idea does not mean it is worth $1 million. Public discussion on numerous points (inclusive of a cost/benefit analysis) needed to be done.

I agree that given free reign, that government will not spend wisely. Government, being a monopoly that is given money it does not earn (i.e. like creating capital from nothing as a person starting or growing a business does), has none of the checks and balances a business person in the competitive, free market goes through when starting a new business or project.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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You hit the nail on the head when you said

There is a different measurement

Public spending has a different role than commercial spending and personal budget spending. What is the "value" of the public road system? That cannot be justified on a strict cost/benefit analysis. What is the value of any one paved streetway in Lower Merion, let's say Evans Lane in Haverford, for instance, which may only serve 10 or 12 residents. Can the cost of construction and maintenance of that street be justified? Not by any cost/benefit standard I know of. 

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exactly..."anything goes" and cost is no object when someone else is paying. Lexo, you have perfectly represented why we are going bankrupt.

"Different Measurement" does not mean "No Measurement". "No Measurement" is a recipe for fiscal disaster as we are seeing play out.

Not measuring cost/benefit of expenditures is like Captain Smith deliberately steering into the iceberg.

Lexo, may I infer that you are an Obama Voter?

 

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Well it looks better, but the thing is this, why can't we get a new train station??  This should all be part of THAT and last we were told, we weren't getting a train station, yet stations like Malvern dirt pits that they are near completion and Downingtown is being considered, right?  This took a long time and it is all superficial it seems - paint and lights.  The lights are definitely welcome as it gets creepy dark under there.  It did take a long time to do. I don't know what to think.

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Good point, Carla. It seems to me the train station would have priority. Who decided the priority of bridge lights over train station? How was the decision made and what were the critieria. Personally, I would rather have seen the train station upgraded although I am not sure it is all that necessary and it depends on cost as well. I think all of us need to be looking, carefully, at the cost/benefit of this project.

The Township has already decided to spend $9 million dollar Ludington horse and buggy factory...oooops, I mean an expanded paper book bricks and mortar library. Not to mention the very necessary $900,000 on the Ardmore/Lancaster intersection which has made all our lives so much better. Are these people you can trust with money? 

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dmuth's picture
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Since there has been quite a bit of debate about whether this project was worth it, I added a related poll: Which do you prefer in Ardmore?

 

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dmuth's picture
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So a friend of mine liked the lights and asked if I would take pictures of her under the Anderson Ave. bridge.  Who am I to argue?

Moon Mochi under the Anderson Ave Bridge Moon Mochi under the Anderson Ave Bridge Moon Mochi under the Anderson Ave Bridge

What? Hasn't anyone ever seen a green jackal with two tails before? Sticking out tongue

 

 

 

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dmuth's picture
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It looks like the colored lights are back on under the Anderson Ave bridge:

They no longer rotate, but are now static colors. I miss the rotating colors, but the upside is that still photography looks nicer!

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Yeah, I'd rather see the show, too. I wonder where the controller is locked up. That would be a cool place for bluestastic, next year.

I notice the 'clean look' of no fence along the sidewalk.* Are all LM railroad underpasses like that?

 

*bob, $1.32 MM should include a fence or guard rail, if people want one. (maybe even a moving sidewalk)

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dmuth's picture
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I notice the 'clean look' of no fence along the sidewalk.* Are all LM railroad underpasses like that?

The one on Woodside Ave is, and also has NO light, which causes safety concerns.  The one under Haverford station does have a railing and a raised sidewalk.  Not sure about the other underpasses.  Documenting them all would be an interesting project.

 

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Our lives are so much better for $1.152 million, no leaks in the rain, no rust and colorful lights. Perhaps, colorful lights at Ludington Library?

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That's a lot of money, but can it be broken down?  Rust and drips off of a bridge is not trivial.

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Is this a priority is the first question?

I don't know. The government doesn't consult the taxpayer before it does what it wants to do. The government forces me to pay. Apparently you don't mind. oh well. it created Obama jobs  and profits for unionized company.

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The LMT Capital Improvement Program for the years 2012-2017 is out and under Completed Projects  - 2011  provides this information:

Description:  Complete design and construction of the Anderson Avenue Underpass Enhancement adjacent to the Ardmore  Station.  Design elements include enhanced lighting, sidewalk surface treatments, streetscape improvements, and architectural elements.  Proposed enhancements, including new pedestrian lighting, reconstructed sidewalks, repainted bridge structure, gateway signage, underpass canopies (for capturing and dispersing dripping water), and aesthetic elements, will greatly improve the user experience in crossing under the tracks and better connect the Ardmore Business District to Suburban Square.

Justification:  This project is intended to improve pedestrian conditions and visual quality of the Anderson Avenue Underpass, a major connection between Suburban Square and the Ardmore Business District.  DVRPC is assisting PADOT to implement this project and oversee the $518,880 grant from the Home Town Safe Streets program.  PADOT has provided additional funds totaling $625,000 to address escalation caused by bidding delays.

Expenditures on this project are listed as follows:  2007 - $75,000; 2008 - $64,000; 2009 - $113,000; 2010 - $298,000; 2011 - $875,000.   This totals to $1,425,000.  The Township share for 2011 is $75,000.  Total Township cost, derived by subtracting the Safe Streets grant and the PADOT supplementary grant, would appear to be $281,120.

So, it's $1.425 million, rather than the $1.152 I had previously calculated.  [Question:  The design for this project by Hillier Architects was unveiled in 2005.  Were not costs incurred for the design work at that time?  How much were they?]

The CIP is online at http://lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=1237.    The Anderson Avenue Underpass Improvements project is at Page C7.

 

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politeia's picture
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Point to realize is that this project did cost LM taxpayers $1.425 million.

Just because $800,000 came from a PA DOT “grant” does not mean we did not pay for that $800,000.

It’s a shell game. $800,000 of our state tax dollars got spent elsewhere across the state for projects in other communities, and we got this in return (not commenting on the cost/benefit of the bridge work at this point, but rather just pointing this out).

I’ll leave it to others to determine if this was worth $1.425 million of our tax dollars, and the big question for me is – when was this discussed and voted on by the commissioners in a public meeting?

How many other $1.5 million protects is the township doing with our tax dollars and without our knowledge?

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Hillier Architects do benefit from these projects, probably, more than the people who pay for them.

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Thanks for the information, Hugh.

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