By Keith Gushard
Crawford County Commissioner C. Sherman Allen said he’d like to see another public meeting on the status of the Mead Avenue Bridge project.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation held meetings with both business owners and the public about the proposed replacement for the Mead Avenue Bridge.
The Mead Avenue Bridge, owned by Crawford County, spans French Creek connecting Vernon Township with the city of Meadville. The bridge has been closed since March 2007 after an inspection by EADS Group, the county’s engineer, found deficiencies.
The last public update on the project was in December 2012 when PennDOT and the county held an open house for public review of bridge plans and a construction schedule. The bridge is proposed to be finished by the fall of 2014.
“The whole process of getting a new bridge over French Creek — it’s easier to get a man to the moon,” Allen said Tuesday.
The project now is subject to a court battle over condemnation proceedings by the county for land necessary for the new bridge.
Denis E. and Rose A. Alexatos have filed preliminary objections with Crawford County Court of Common Pleas over the county’s condemnation procedures claiming too much land is being taken for the new bridge. The couple own the land north and south of the current Mead Avenue Bridge. A hearing on the matter is scheduled in county court in September.
Allen said it is unfair to blame anyone as an impediment to the project.
“Even if we take Denis Alexatos’ land, we have other property owners in the (project) area to deal with,” Allen said Tuesday.
Allen said there have been biological issues due to French Creek being home to several species of mussels that are protected.
Allen hopes another public open house update on the project for both Mead Avenue area business owners and the general public could be held this fall. Allen said that would allow everyone to hear the same thing about the project at the same time.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.