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Leetsdale bridge slated for demo delayed

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The Leet Street Bridge is the second-oldest “thru” truss bridge in Allegheny County, behind the southbound Smithfield Street Bridge, according to bridge data.

Built in 1886 by Morse Bridge Co. of Youngstown, Ohio, it originally was part of the Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Ashtabula Railroad Bridge No. 20 in Lawrence Junction — near New Castle.

The Pennsylvania Railroad moved the bridge to its present location in 1904, and it was widened and re-erected by Pittsburgh Steel Construction Co.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A Leetsdale bridge closed to vehicles won't soon come down, leaders say.

The Leet Street Bridge — closed to traffic since it failed an inspection over the summer — will remain standing through at least the first half of next year, said Anthony Rosenberger of Centerside Industrial Development in the Leetsdale Industrial Park.

Leetsdale Council President Joe McGurk confirmed that information.

Norfolk Southern Railway Co. officials withdrew a request to the state to remove their portion of the bridge that connectsBeaver Street to Washington Street, crossing over Route 65 and railroad tracks.

In the fall, leaders said railroad officials considered removing their portion of the bridge over tracks, potentially leaving a bridge to nowhere because the portion owned by PennDOT was in decent shape, state officials reported.

Now, McGurk said, there is a chance the entire bridge ultimately could be torn down and replaced with pedestrian access.

“If the bridge does go down, they'll replace it with a pedestrian walkway to allow people to get the bus on Beaver Street (and) to cross safely,” he said.

Norfolk Southern officials earlier agreed to tear down their half, which extends over railroad tracks, at a cost of $77,000.

Pedestrians access remains, but a portion of the sidewalk is closed because of its poor condition.

Residents have said they feared how the loss of the bridge could affect an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency at one of the nearby industrial parks.

Councilman Roger Nanni said he wanted to see the bridge receive historical status, but Rosenberger said the bridge is not eligible.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408

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