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July 17, 2014

No timetable offered for re-opening local pedestrian bridge

MEADVILLE — A footbridge that spans Mill Run and is in the vicinity of East End Elementary School has been closed indefinitely by Meadville City Council.

Earlier this week, Meadville resident David Shouey alerted the city that the 12-year-old structure wasn’t stable. Engineering consultant Ashley Porter examined the bridge and found the understructure supporting the deck was 90 percent corroded.

“It was imperative the bridge was closed due to safety concerns,” Porter said.

A “street closed” sign currently blocks the bridge, which City Council discussed the future of at its Wednesday meeting.

Using de-icing agents without power washing them off at the end of every winter season was the cause of the corrosion. The life expectancy of the bridge was 20 to 25 years, according to Porter.

Porter gave council several options regarding the bridge’s future. The cost of repairing the existing bridge is $194,000, to tear down and rebuild the bridge would be $300,000 and to remove the bridge without a replacement is $18,500. Porter recommended the bridge’s deck be made of steel grating to avoid another incident of de-icer corrosion.

Councilman Bob Langley asked what kind of timeline there was to act on the issue. Interim City Manager Andy Walker said the bridge wasn’t an immediate concern because it doesn’t prohibit students from accessing Meadville schools.

Students living on the north side of Mill Run are in the First District attendance area and wouldn’t need to cross the bridge. Students living on Mill Run’s south side and attending Second District Elementary also wouldn’t need the bridge to get to school.

For those attending Meadville Area Senior High School and Meadville Area Middle School, Shady Brook Park allows those from the south an access to get to school.

With the budget process looming and the city facing a possible deficit and capitol projects with higher priorities, council chose to block off the bridge for now and revisit the issue.

“This will have to take a back seat,” Mayor Christopher Soff said.

This isn’t the only Meadville-area walking bridge to have closed recently. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation closed the Smock Bridge walkway on Routes 6 and 19 connecting Meadville and Vernon Township over a year ago after an inspection deemed the railing unsafe due to rust and deterioration. The bridge’s walkway may not be rehabilitated until 2015.

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