Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 22, 2014

Vernon resident to outline bridge plan

VERNON TOWNSHIP — A public meeting on a proposed construction alternative for replacing the closed Mead Avenue Bridge is slated for Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Days Inn, 18360 Conneaut Lake Road.

Vernon Township landowner Denis E. Alexatos has organized the meeting to review his alternate proposal to replace the long-closed Mead Avenue Bridge.

The county-owned bridge, which spans French Creek, connecting Vernon Township with Meadville, closed in March 2007 after it failed a safety inspection by EADS Group, the county’s engineering firm.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is overseeing a more than $10 million project to replace the bridge with a new, larger span on the site of the current Mead Avenue Bridge.

Alexatos, who would lose land and buildings with construction of a new Mead Avenue Bridge, is promoting a different style of bridge. Alexatos said his proposal wouldn’t require any condemnation of his property and would cost about $2.2 million to build.

The federal Highway Administration will pay 80 percent of the Mead Avenue Bridge’s replacement cost while PennDOT will pay 20 percent, including the county’s 5 percent share.

PennDOT estimates on construction cost of the bridge are $7 million to $7.25 million with another $2 million to $3 million needed for property and right-of-way acquisition, engineering, traffic control signal and lighting, plus realignment of the Cussewago Road/Route 102, Mead Avenue and Hank Street intersection in Vernon Township.

PennDOT will have representatives at Tuesday’s meeting, according to Jim Carroll, a spokesman for PennDOT’s northwest regional office in Oil City.

PennDOT’s proposed Mead Avenue Bridge was to be finished by the end of this year, but construction has yet to begin.

Early last fall, PennDOT announced a delay in advertising the bridge’s construction contract until this spring because rights-of-way negotiations for land needed on both sides of French Creek still aren’t finished.

Rights-of-way agreements are needed with Alexatos, the landowner on the Vernon Township side of the bridge, and with Lincoln Recycling of Meadville, the landowner on the Meadville side of the bridge, according to PennDOT.

Also, any construction timetable will be constrained by restrictions from both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, according to PennDOT. There will be limited times of the year when necessary in-stream construction may be done due to some species of aquatic life in the stream that are protected.

Once construction of the new Mead Avenue Bridge begins it is expected to take about a year to complete, according to PennDOT.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

You can go

Denis Alexatos, a Vernon Township landowner, holds a public meeting Tuesday on a proposed construction alternative for replacing the closed Mead Avenue Bridge. The meeting is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Days Inn, 18360 Conneaut Lake Road, Vernon Township.

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