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Sewickley Township bridge to stay closed for DEP assessment

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Sewickley Township bridge will remain closed for an indefinite period while environmental factors are assessed before repairs.

A hole in the roadway of the bridge on Falls Road raised concern, so the span was barricaded last week, Supervisor Wanda Layman said.

“If you'd hit that hole and hit the side of the road, you could go over the side, and we don't want to take that risk,” she said, adding that it would be more treacherous in the dark.

Township engineer Dan Schmidt reviewed the bridge with Layman and recommended the closure.

The bridge and road are maintained by the township, not by PennDOT.

Because it is less than 20 feet in length, the span does not require regular inspections. Officials were unsure when the bridge was built or what might have caused the hole.

Schmidt said the damaged area is about 2-by-4 feet, but repairs could open the roadway farther.

“You don't want to tie good concrete to bad concrete,” Schmidt said. “It could be worse.”

The bridge, which spans a small unnamed creek, connects Slaughter Hollow Road and Mars Hill Road outside Herminie.

No homes are along the road, but Layman said she alerted Yough School District and emergency services, including Westmoreland County 911, state police at Greensburg, the local fire departments and the ambulance service.

Schmidt said he is developing a construction plan with cost estimates while he waits for approval of an emergency repair permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, because of the effects of construction on the water under the span.

Because the creek is a tributary of Little Sewickley Creek, any construction may be delayed by trout fishing season, which begins on April 13, Schmidt said.

“It may be closed a little longer than we originally wanted it to be,” he said.

The road is open for access to a sewage pumping station that services nearby Kimberly Estates mobile home park, Layman said.

A detour is posted, but Schmidt said it is “not significant.” The detour is a little over a half-mile as Slaughter Hollow Road curves and connects with Mars Hill Road.

Once the extent of repairs is determined, officials can decide if township workers or a contractor will complete the work, he said.

About two miles away on Mars Hill Road, repairs are slated for completion next week to part of the shoulder, said PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen.

The damage marked by cones outside Rillton was caused by excessive rain and snow and will be filled, she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She canbe reached at 724-836-6660or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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