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Denny Mills Bridge closure nears end in Winfield Township, Butler County

| Sunday, April 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Construction crews, using a crane, lift the first of four, 18-ton, 51-foot concrete beams into place for the Denny Mills bridge in Winfield Township on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The bridge, closed since October 2011, spans the Rough Run creek and connects Marwood and Clearfield Roads. It's expected to be finished by Memorial Day.

After 18 months of dealing with the extra miles and minutes the Denny Mills Bridge closure has added to their commute, residents are more than ready for the small but essential span to reopen.

“I hope — I say ‘hope' now, rather than ‘will' — it's open by Memorial Day,” Winfield Township Supervisor Matt Klabnik said. “Once those beams are in place, it should go smooth from there. We don't anticipate any other problems.”

More than four months later than expected, the beams for the new bridge were set last week.

The bridge deck and paving will be completed this week.

The new bridge will be 24 feet wide and 36 feet long and have no weight restrictions.

The township closed the bridge in October 2011 because it was unsafe.

On an average day, between 800 and 1,000 vehicles used the bridge, which carries Marwood Road over Rough Run near Clearfield Road.

The Butler County commissioners agreed to provide county workers to rebuild the bridge at a cost of $225,000.

Residents say they're not going to get their hopes up that the crew doing the work will meet the Memorial Day target.

“I'll believe it when I see it,” said Rebecca Boyd, owner of Freehling Lumber, which is on the western side of the bridge.

She said business at the hardware store and lumber company took a hit because of the closure since customers who would stop in on their way to or from work no longer drive their previous route.

Winfield Township officials originally said the bridge would be finished by December 2012.

But work to pour the concrete for the bridge walls began in October, rather than August, because the Butler County bridge crew's start date was delayed by a prior project.

“Weather certainly played a role,” Klabnik said. “And we got started late.”

The latest setback was trying to coordinate with West Penn Power to cut the power to a line located near the bridge. The power line poses a hazard to workers as they set the steel bridge beams.

“The reason is that they have to turn off the electricity for three or four hours, and they don't like doing that in really cold weather,” Klabnik said. “There's a power line right beside the bridge. If that wasn't there, the beams would have been set a month ago.”

Ken Miller, who travels daily from his home on Clearfield Road to Butler Stone & Craft on North Pike Road in Jefferson Township, said he's tired of the delays and just wants the bridge to reopen.

“It takes an extra 15 minutes to get back and forth to work,” said Miller, who lives just across the bridge. “At this point, I'm so disgusted.”

Ken Fraley, who lives off Cornetti Road in adjacent Clearfield Township, said the sooner the bridge opens, the better.

“It gets old driving around all the time,” he said. “Since they've been doing (the work), we have to drive around the cement plant. And if you get behind a cement truck, then you're really stuck.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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