Cochranton Bridge

An artist's rendering of the proposed bridge for Cochranton.

COCHRANTON — Bids are expected to be opened later this month for a new bridge carrying Route 173 over French Creek in Cochranton.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation expects to open bids Jan. 29 for a new wider and longer open-style bridge to replace the current truss bridge.

The new bridge has an estimated construction cost of $8.5 million, according to PennDOT. It will be more than 37 feet wide to accommodate two 12-foot-wide lanes of travel plus two 4-foot shoulders and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

The current Route 173 bridge is a truss design built in 1930. It has a total roadway with of 22 1/2 feet and doesn’t have any sidewalks.

The new Cochranton bridge will be a total of three spans with two piers in French Creek compared to the current two-span, one-pier configuration, according to Jim Carroll, PennDOT spokesman. The new Cochranton bridge will have no weight limit restrictions.

“We anticipate construction from early April to early November,” Carroll said Friday.

In a separate project, the road-level railroad crossing that carries the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad across Route 173, just north of the bridge, will be upgraded in the 2015 construction season.

New operating flashing lights, the addition of safety gates at the highway’s railroad crossing and a rebuild of the crossing itself will be done. It’s a $364,514 project to be paid 80 percent by the federal government and 20 percent by PennDOT, Carroll said.

The coming bridge construction project in Cochranton will mean a detour for traffic on Route 173 during 2015. The detour will use a new bridge over French Creek, downstream from Cochranton, near the Mercer County community of Carlton.

PennDOT put a new two-lane bridge on New Lebanon Road in French Creek Township, Mercer County in a $5.8 million project completed in the fall of 2014. The new Carlton area bridge replaced the single-lane Carlton Truss Bridge that dated from 1898. PennDOT closed that single-lane bridge in 2011 due to structural deficiencies.

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

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