CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Confusion over a Chester Hill bridge continues as officials are unsure what will happen to the historic bridge.
Built in the 1940s, the Presqueisle Street bridge has been closed for the past three years due to safety concerns. Previously the bridge was used by community members to travel between Chester Hill and Philipsburg. It was also a way for residents to escape floods.
Today, the bridge is closed and filled with graffiti which is making the residents and businesses concerned about its future. In 2019 PennDOT communicated to the Chester Hill Borough Council that it would take at least 6-8 years to get a new bridge installed.
“During the construction activities, additional damage was identified, prompting an investigation into the cause. Testing of the steel revealed that brittleness during low temperatures was causing cracking under loading. The condition of the existing structure made it cost prohibitive to repair. PennDOT made an evaluation of possible alternatives and met with both boroughs to explain the findings in mid-July of 2019,” Tom Zurat, District Executive for PennDOT District 2.
PennDOT has said that with current funding limits replacing the bridge is a difficult decision and they are currently trying to determine whether an alternative route could serve the community better.
“Well the bridge has been closed for a little over three years now and we understand from officials at PennDot and Philipsburg borough, that the bridge can’t be repaired. It does not meet any modern flood standards, so the bridge would have to be removed and replaced,” President of the Revitalization Corporation Eric Rusnak said.
However, PennDOT is also opposed, at the current moment, to removing the bridge as it could limit future alternatives.
According to the secretary from The Chester Hill Borough Council, they originally had a public information session scheduled for August 17th, but the date has been changed.
“PennDOT is working with the boroughs to set up a meeting to provide updated information related to funding, replacement or removal options, and other transportation improvement alternatives. We hope that we can come up with a direction moving forward that will satisfy the municipalities, the adjacent property owners along with PennDOT and the local planning partners,” Zurat said”
PennDOT is working to reschedule the meeting to a neutral location. As of this time the is no set date and time for a future meeting.
Chester Hill Borough Council President Dr. Pierce Sanute Sanute said the borough would post any scheduled public meeting on its website under news.
You can also sign up for the borough’s newsletter to receive the most updated information, including the the upcoming meeting for the Presqueisle Bridge.