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Swatara Creek bridge update: Big work coming next week, but it still won't be open until at least spring

web2 230 Bridge 4Drivers go over the Route 230 bridge spanning Swatara Creek on Friday morning.

 

The Route 230 bridge spanning Swatara Creek on Middletown’s east side will undergo an important transformation early next week.

Starting Monday morning, girders will be set on the bridge that connects Middletown and Londonderry Township. 

In a Feb. 1 email, Greg Penny, a PennDOT spokesman, said the contractor, Kinsley Construction Inc., of York, had plans to set the girders for Phase 2 of the project Feb. 6 and Feb. 7 with a makeup day of Wednesday, Feb. 8, if necessary. 

This portion of the project involves unloading and installing the girders on the bridge. A girder is a support structure that supports small beams in construction. Penny said there will be a total of six girders to unload and install and due to the complexity of the process. There will be traffic stoppages on Route 230 in the area of the bridge for up to 15 minutes each time a girder is unloaded and installed. 

The work will begin at 7 a.m. and travelers are advised to either allow for additional time to arrive at their destination or use an alternate route to avoid delays.

This work will continue a construction project that began in November 2015. Plans called for the project to be completed by the end of October, but issues have led to a delay. According to Penny, the project is expected to be completed in late spring or early summer 2017.

“Late spring is still our expectation. Swatara Creek Road will remain closed until the bridge is restored to two lanes late this spring,” Penny said in a Jan. 30 email.

Penny added there were several reasons for the lengthy delay. One problem was having the necessary bridge beams fabricated and delivered. Penny said it is believed the number of other bridge projects in the state increased the demand for supplies and fabricators were experiencing difficulties in meeting the demand and shipping the supplies on time.

According to a previous Press And Journal article, Kinsley Construction Inc. was having issues receiving the necessary beams needed for the project. Other reasons Penny listed for the delay are on the technical side. These include tolerance issues with the beams and deck grades. 

PennDOT awarded the $4,340,500 contract to Kinsley Construction on Oct. 13, 2015. It included demolition and replacement of the superstructure under staged construction, repairs to the existing concrete piers and abutments, drainage improvements, installation of scour protection, roadway approach work, guiderail replacement, and new pavement markings, according to PennDOT.

According to Penny, the bridge has two through girders which support the entire deck structure and workers had to install a temporary third girder in order to work on the bridge while allowing traffic to pass at the same time. 

“It would have been easier and quicker and less costly to have closed the bridge to rebuild it; but due to the importance of Route 230, we had to take this approach in order to keep the bridge open and maintain one lane of traffic,” Penny said.

The bridge was built in 1941 and was rated by PennDOT as “structurally deficient” before work began.

Route 230 — known as Main Street in Middletown and Harrisburg Pike east of the borough — averages 6,130 vehicles traveled daily, according to PennDOT.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 February 2017 13:11

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15-year-old girl missing; police seeking community's help

missing girl

The Middletown Police Department is seeking the community’s help in locating a missing child.

Caitlin Marie McLinn, 15, has dirty blonde hair below her shoulders and blue eyes. She is 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 pounds. 

She was last seen wearing skinny blue jeans with a pink or gray sweatshirt. 

She was last seen in the area at about 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2.

If you have information that can assist in helping safely locate her, call 911 or contact the police at at 717-558-6900 or 911.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 February 2017 13:03

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Mother, uncle head to trial in drowning death of 3-year-old

web graham billerThe mother of a girl charged in the drowning death of her 3-year-old daughter in Lower Swatara Township in July will head to trial in Dauphin County Court after District Judge Michael J. Smith advanced the charges during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Tiffany Graham, 23, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children.

Her brother, Austin C. Biller, 18, of Lower Swatara Township, faces the same charges.

Graham’s father, Craig Biller, 53, is charged with hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence.

All three will have formal arraignment in Dauphin County Court at 9:30 a.m. April 7 before Judge Scott A. Evans.

They are out on bail, according to court documents.

Lower Swatara Police Detective Robert Appleby said he testified for about two hours at the preliminary hearing. He was the only person who testified.

“As far as the questioning, it was pretty standard stuff. You get an idea as to why defense attorneys ask questions and their intent down the road. But it was really basic questions,” he said.

Appleby said he was pleased they will head for trial.

“Everything we did was for the little girl. That was our main goal, to get justice for the little girl,” he told the Press And Journal.

The girl, Lelianna Danowski, drowned in a pool at a Lower Swatara Township residence. She had a tendency to wander away from home — including just three days before her death, when she was found alone eating dirt at the playground at Catherine and Emaus streets in Middletown not far from where her mother was living at the time, according to authorities. 

Family members called the girl “Little Miss Houdini,” according to Appleby.

On July 31, Graham had returned from work early in the morning and asked Biller to baby-sit. Biller told investigators he fell asleep and when he woke up, the girl was gone from her high chair. He said he searched the neighborhood but didn’t call 911 until later in the day — more than an hour after he first noticed she was missing, authorities said.

Biller lived in the 2000 block of West Harrisburg Pike. The girl was found nearby in a pool at a residence in the 100 block of Wayne Avenue.

Appleby previously told the Press And Journal that Austin Biller’s residence was equipped with a double-key deadbolt at the time the girl got away July 31. That means the door could have been locked from the inside, making it almost impossible for a 3-year-old to get out. But, according to Appleby, the door was not locked because Craig Biller, the father of Graham and Biller, was returning home and did not have a key to get in.

There were about six incidents since 2014 of the girl wandering off, Appleby said — although those are just the ones that were reported. The girl was found wandering in the cold several times during that time frame. 

Craig Biller is charged with hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence because police said he took the clothing of the 3-year-old girl from the scene of the drowning. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2017 11:17

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Five Blue Raiders sign to play college football

2 8 signing

Five Middletown Blue Raiders football standouts signed letters of intent to play college football during a ceremony Wednesday at the high school.

From left, linebacker/tight end Malik Noon (Lock Haven University), quarterback Chase Snavely (Lock Haven University), lineman Trey Michal (Lock Haven University), running back/defensive back Jaelen Thompson (Towson University) and wide receiver/safety Laron Woody (Shippensburg University) all signed their letter of intent to play football at the collegiate level Wednesday afternoon.

Ethan Newton will participate in the April Signing Day and is expected to play at Lycoming College.

They were all key players on the first Middletown Area High School football team to advance all the way to the state championship game.

Thompson is one of five finalists for the Small School 2016 Mr. PA Football. He was a Mid-Penn All-Star. He was named to the PA Writers All State Team and the All Eastern PA Team, and was selected as Eastern PA Football Player of the Year.

Snavely and Michal were Mid-Penn Conference All Stars. Snavely was on the All Eastern PA Team.

Read more about their future plans and their memories of Middletown football in the Feb. 8 edition of the Press And Journal.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 16:54

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Lower Swatara police: Man had 2 pounds of marijuana in his car — along with his two young children

 

An expired vehicle registration led a Lower Swatara Township police officer to stop a vehicle in the 800 block of South Eisenhower Boulevard on Tuesday, Jan 31. 

As the driver lowered his window, the officer immediately recognized the odor of burnt marijuana. 

The driver, Tyler M. Menear, 26, of the first block of Hammaker Street, Highspire, admitted to having smoked marijuana prior to driving. In addition to an adult passenger, Menear had his two children, ages 4½ and 1½ in the vehicle. During the investigation, police recovered over 2 pounds of what is suspected to be marijuana packaged in two large plastic bags and one vacuum-sealed bag, and drug paraphernalia. 

Menear is charged with possession with intent to deliver, possession of paraphernalia, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, endangering the welfare of children, driving an unregistered vehicle and driving an uninspected vehicle, along with other charges. Menear was taken to the Dauphin County Judicial Center to await arraignment in night court. 

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Lower Swatara Township Police via Dauphin County Control at 717-558-6900 or contact Dauphin County Crime Stoppers at 800-262-3080 or visit their website at www.dauphin.crimewatchpa.com and click on the “submit a tip” link. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 16:09

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