By Keith Gushard
Saying the county-owned South Perry Street Bridge is the only truck access point to future development in the southwest corner of Titusville, Titusville City Council is asking Crawford County Board of Commissioners to not only maintain the bridge but also improve it.
The South Perry Street bridge, which carries traffic over Oil Creek in Titusville, currently has a 3-ton weight restriction on it, according to the Crawford County Maintenance Office. Pedestrian walkways on the bridge are closed due to the deteriorating steel structure underneath them.
The South Perry Street Bridge is listed for replacement on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s current transportation improvement plan, but it’s not a done deal. PennDOT is involved because there will be state funding for the project even though it’s a county-owned bridge.
A letter dated Oct. 15 expressing concern about the bridge that was signed by all five members of Titusville City Council was presented at Tuesday’s weekly work session of county commissioners.
“The citizens of Titusville have been waiting for this bridge to be replaced for over a decade when the cost was estimated at $1.5 million,” the letter said. “The cost now is estimated at $5 million.”
The letter pointed out the bridge is needed for both business development and citizens.
“Titusville has been very proactive in preparing for the Shale (natural gas) industry,” the letter stated. “Truck access to this area could potentially be a key to future development.”
“This bridge also allows many low-income families with no other transportation walking access to our downtown business district,” the letter continued. “The elimination of this bridge would also cause additional traffic issues at the intersection of Franklin Street and St. Johns Street where sight issues already exist.”
Commissioners pointed out that keeping the bridge isn’t just a county issue but a state issue as well since there would be state funding involved.
“There would have to be a ‘purpose and needs’ study done first,” Jim Carroll, a spokesman PennDOT’s northwest district office, Tuesday said. “We’re paying more attention to that issue because of funding and the world we’re living in now — tight budgets.”
Among the items to be considered in the purpose and needs study will be a determination if the South Perry Street Bridge is needed.
There are two other bridges in the area — a state-owned bridge on Route 8, one block east of South Perry Street, and the county-owned Brown Street Bridge, that is east of the Route 8 Bridge, both cross Oil Creek. Both of the Route 8 and Brown Street bridges carry vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
PennDOT officials have met with Titusville officials and PennDOT will schedule a meeting with the county, Carroll said.
“Absolutely there will be a public meeting on the South Perry Street bridge,” Carroll said, but no meeting has been set yet.
Money toward design of the replacement bridge and utility relocation was to be released this year, but it hasn’t been yet, Carroll said. Construction of the project would be in 2015, according to PennDOT’s plan.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 7246370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.