Messerall Bridge

The historic Messerall Truss Bridge will ne used as a bike trail crossing over Linesville Creek.

Construction to improve and expand Pymatuning State Park's Spillway Trail is set to begin this summer.

The project will improve the trail, which currently runs from Fries Road in North Shenango Township north to just south of the borough of Linesville. It also will be extended into Linesville and then turn east across the southern edge of the borough to South Chestnut Street.

"When it's all done, we'll be up to about three-and-a-half miles of trail," said Dan Bickel, superintendent of Pymatuning State Park.

Bids on the project were opened April 8 with Horizon Construction Group of Sandy Lake the apparent low bidder at $2.28 million. It was one of six bidders on the project.

In 2018, a $958,461 state transportation grant was announced to help pay for improvements and extend the trail.

Construction documents need formal final approval, but construction is expected to begin in July with completion by April 2022, Bickel said. 

The current trail is on an old railroad track bed running parallel to Linesville-Hartstown Road.

The current trail from Fries Road to the Pymatuning Spillway area will be rehabilitated with crushed limestone added, Bickel said.

About a 1-mile paved section of trail — from the Spillway north to its current end near the Crooked Paddle Restaurant outside of Linesville — will be repaved as part of the project, he said.

The extension will add another limestone trail section northeast into Linesville, then turn east behind Conneaut Area Senior High School before ending at South Chestnut Street, Bickel said.

As part of the extension in Linesville, a more than 150-year-old iron bridge from Crawford County will be used as a trail crossing over Linesville Creek, Bickel said.

In August, Crawford County commissioners voted to transfer ownership of the abandoned Messerall Road Bridge near Titusville from the county to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the project. The bridge was dismantled and put in storage.

Originally built in 1870, the bridge is a single-span wrought iron bowstring thru truss. It's 103 feet long and just over 17 feet wide. It's one of the earliest bridges in Pennsylvania and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. 

A future second phase would extend the trail from South Chestnut Street east toward Townline Road near the border of Pine and Summit townships, Bickel said. That future extension, if done, would make the total trail about 5 miles, he said.

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

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