Berlin Bank Repairs Lead To Road Closures

BERLIN – PNC’s Berlin branch was expected to be open by today, despite continued construction repairing the damage caused by last week’s accident.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, a car struck the downtown bank at the intersection of William and Bay streets, resulting in the driver’s fatality and multiple injuries to a passenger in the vehicle and extensive damage to the building.

Berlin Superintendent of Planning and Zoning Chuck Ward told The Dispatch that repairs were going well as of Tuesday.

“Plans are that the bank will be open Thursday morning, though that doesn’t mean all construction will be done,” Ward said.

In fact, it’s unlikely that PNC will see the end of construction anytime soon. The car, which had been traveling at a high rate of speed, struck the building near its main entrance, wrecking much of the brick façade and causing structural damage that was severe enough to make the walls actually shift slightly.

The most recent accident comes on the heels of a similar event earlier this year. Last March a different vehicle struck the bank in almost the same area. Ward did say that this latest crash caused far more damage, however.

“The front columns on either side of the door that support that whole side of the bank have to be dismantled,” said Ward. “They had to disassemble the brick and mortar.”

During the project, workers will replace the brick front while strengthening the internal structure.
“It will be the same façade, but there will likely be steel engineering,” Ward said.

Since the accident Monday, repairs have caused a minor disruption to the town. Roads around the bank have been closed for incremental periods of time over the last week.

“There’s a lot of debris coming off,” said Ward. “We were worried about vehicle and pedestrian safety.”

Additionally, roads surrounding the repair site have had to be closed to prevent worsening damage to the structure.

“Bank walls shifted overnight, between last Thursday and Friday,” said Ward. “They shifted over half an inch.”

Vibrations from vehicles driving close to the bank were blamed for the moving walls and roads once again had to be temporarily closed.   

Still, work is moving along. Ward attributes the efficiency of the process to the fact that PNC is using a construction group that has a lot of practice with construction in Berlin.

“The crew they have is experienced working downtown and also in the historic district,” Ward said.