ShareThis Page

Dambach Avenue Bridge reopens to residents' delight

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Workers from Fence by Maintenance Service in McCandless were still installing a guard rail when residents and Richland officials gathered for the Nov. 22 re-opening of long-closed Dambach Avenue Bridge near the border of Richland Township and Valencia Borough.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Mel Aiken's 1977 Chevy pickup rolls onto the new Dambach Avenue Bridge in Richland, a popular local shortcut that closed more than five years ago when the span's predecessor began to deteriorate and become unsafe. Residents' pleas led Richland officials to replace the old bridge and resurface Dambach Avenue for about $107,560.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Dave Wass, left, and Bill Maurhoff, both of Adams Township, grilled two dozen hamburgers and a lot of hot dogs for a cookout at Aiken Auto Body to celebrate the Nov. 22 reopening of the local Dambach Avenue Bridge near the border of Richland Township and Valencia Borough.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Area residents prepared homemade casseroles and brownies for a party at Aiken Auto Body to thank elected Richland officials for replacing their neighborhood's Dambach Avenue Bridge and resurfacing Dambach Avenue, a popular shortcut from Richland Township to Valencia Borough. About 20 people attended the lunch-hour celebration.

People partied after Mel Aiken, owner of a local auto body shop, recently drove his 1977 Chevy Scottsdale over the new Dambach Avenue Bridge on the border of Richland and Valencia.

“Everybody appreciates the bridge project,” said Aiken, who led the local residents' push to get the new, one-way, 21-foot span.

“It'll get well used,” Aiken said.

When the old Dambach Avenue Bridge deteriorated, Richland supervisors closed Dambach Avenue more than five years ago — and eliminated a popular shortcut for motorists, pedestrians, ambulances and fire fighters.

But neighbors' persistence and pleas eventually led the township supervisors to replace the bridge and resurface the avenue for about $107,560.

“People started going to (township) meetings,” Aiken said. “I don't think they (Richland officials) realized how much people missed the bridge, and how much it was used.”

After the old Dambach Bridge closed, Chris McNamara of Richland, a dog walker for Grand Paws Pet Sitting & Home Care, climbed over barriers to walk across the old bridge near downtown Valencia.

“Lots of people walk around this town, “McNamara said. “The old bridge was falling in. You could see through the asphalt and into the creek. “

Crews were still installing guardrails when Richland Supervisor Ray Kendrick ceremoniously snipped a yellow ribbon at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 22 — under a gentle rain — to open the new Dambach Avenue Bridge. Richland Supervisor John Marshall also attended the bridge opening.

“It boiled down to safety,” Kendrick said about the need to replace and reopen the bridge. “From a first responder's standpoint, it was a necessity. ... You need to have ambulances, police and other first responders able to service the north end of the township.”

A lunch-hour cookout at nearby Aiken's Auto Body immediately followed the bridge opening.

“We've been fighting for a long time to get it open,” said longtime customer Frank Govan, 77, one of about 20 people who attended the cookout.

Pastor Bob Martin of Valencia United Methodist led the group in a prayer of thanksgiving and invoked God's blessings on everyone before folks helped themselves to food.

Dave Wass and Bill Mauroff, both of Adams Township, grilled two dozen hamburgers — and a lot of hot dogs — to accompany guests' homemade brownies and casseroles, plus, a big sheet cake, picturing a bridge in icing, from Giant Eagle.

“It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, even though it's gray and rainy,” Richland Manager Dean Bastianini told the party goers. “The response of this party shows how appreciative the residents and neighbors are that government listened to them. That's how local government is supposed to act.”

Bastianini also credited Kendrick, one of Richland's five supervisors, for leading his elected colleagues to heed residents' pleas for a new bridge.

“Mr. Kendrick advocated for the replacement of the bridge, and the remainder of the board (of supervisors) listened to the people, and they listed to Ray, and they authorized the township to obtain bids,” Bastianini said. “When the bids came in lower than expected, it became clear it was financially responsible to proceed.”

Pauline Kramer, Mel Aiken's sister, made a cheesy potato casserole for the party to celebrate the reopening of the Dambach Avenue Bridge, and to thank Richland's elected officials.

“We wanted to show them how much we appreciated it,” Kramer said.“Because we really do.”

Kramer, 70, still lives across the street from her brother's Valencia Road business in the two-story house where their parents raised five children.

As a girl, Kramer walked over the old Dambach Avenue Bridge to buy candy at a neighborhood store — and avoid the busy, nearby intersection of Valencia and Three Degree roads.

“That's all we knew, since we lived here. It's a shortcut,” Kramer said. “We really missed it.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.