WEST MIDDLESEX, Ohio (WYTV) – A bridge replacement project in West Middlesex is causing concern for neighbors nearby and some local leaders.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation intends to replace the West Middlesex Viaduct and reconstruct a half-mile portion of Route 318 (Main Street) from the intersection of Wheatland Road/Bedford Road and Penn Avenue to the intersection of Erie Street.
The bridge was built in 1939 but has fallen into disrepair and deemed structurally deficient.
The structure originally spanned railroad tracks, but the railroad is gone and only the Shenango River is below. Without the clearance needed for a rail line, the bridge will be lowered substantially.
Over 5,500 vehicles use the bridge daily and it is part of a direct route to local schools. Local leaders are concerned about the obstacle the project will create for emergency crews and the school district.
Another issue on the table is the creation of a sidewalk. PennDOT said it would build a walkway on the bridge but would not maintain it as far as snow removal. That would be done by the borough, which was turned down by the last council.
Borough Council member Robert Lark said not having a sidewalk is dangerous because so many people walk the bridge.
“If a car wasn’t paying attention and slid over, you would be caught between that vehicle and the wall and it wouldn’t be good,” Lark said. “There are a lot of people who walk the hill with the bridge and the viaduct and a lot of students go up there,”
Those issues and others will be addressed Wednesday night at a public meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. at the West Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, 25 North Street.
“It’s an opportunity for us to explain to the people what we are planning, how we see it, and listen to their opinions and gather their input, which is very important to us,” said Jim Carroll, PennDOT spokesperson.