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Engineers look at tearing down Leetsdale bridge

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By Larissa Dudkiewicz
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Leetsdale Councilman Tom Belcastro estimates about 60 to 70 people a day use the bus stop near the Leet Street Bridge.

If the Leetsdale bridge is demolished, he worries about the pedestrians who use the structure to access their homes or work in the Leetsdale Industrial Park.

“If they take that down, then we really have to take action as a borough because of how these people are going to get over to the industrial park,” Belcastro said.

The Leet Street Bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic for nearly a year, since it failed an inspection last summer.

Leetsdale engineer Dan Slagle told council members May 8 the future of the bridge remains unclear.

Norfolk Southern Railway Co. officials withdrew a request to the state late last year to remove their portion of the bridge that connects Beaver Street to Washington Street while crossing over Route 65 and railroad tracks.

Leaders previously said removing the railroad portion potentially would leave a bridge to nowhere because the other portion — owned by PennDOT — was in decent shape.

Slagle said officials are looking at having the bridge demolished because of safety and liability considerations, with alternative plans to construct a pedestrian bridge in its place.

He estimates a new, smaller-scale pedestrian bridge would cost about $300,000 — a price tag he said Leetsdale cannot afford alone.

He encouraged borough officials to contact their local elected representatives and PennDOT officials about transportation and grant funding. He suggested asking all of the industries to consider chipping in to pay for a pedestrian bridge.

Slagle said the bridge provides secondary access to Leetsdale, and taking it down would limit the borough's options because it leaves only one bridge for residents and industrial park workers.

In other business, council:

• Announced that Leetsdale police Chief James Santucci recently underwent surgery at Allegheny General Hospital because of an unspecified medical issue. Borough officials said Santucci is recuperating and could be out on medical leave for up to a month.

• Approved a $218,141 road-paving contract with Victor Paving, based on the recommendation of the engineer and solicitor. Crews will mill 4 inches of asphalt and pave Beaver Street from Village Drive to Ferry Street and all of Village Drive.

The company submitted the lowest bid.

• Approved a motion to advertise and interview for a secretary/treasurer. Council members are planning to hire two part-time seasonal employees to work the concession stand and a parks and recreation coordinator to staff the summer park program.

Larissa Dudkiewicz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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