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PennDOT ready to upgrade Citizens Bridge in Kittanning

KITTANNING — PennDOT officials say that if money becomes available, the Citizens Bridge will be getting a makeover.

Spokesman Harold Swan said the department is preparing a rehabilitation project for the bridge that could be ready to go as soon as a funding source is identified.

"There is a possibility of additional stimulus funds, or leftover funds from other districts that would allow us to begin work on the bridge," he said. "But right now, we are planning the projects and putting it on the shelf, waiting for the right time to get started."

Swan said stimulus funds have been awarded for numerous "shovel-ready" projects across the state and officials are hoping that the Citizens Bridge, which carries Route 1038 over the Allegheny River between Kittanning and East Franklin, will fall into that category.

"We want to be able to pull the project off the shelf, dust it off and have it ready to go as soon as we get the money," he said. "As it stands right now, we could be ready to begin the project in early 2011."

The estimated cost is $4.5 million and would include replacement of the expansion dams, placement of an epoxy overlay to seal and preserve the bridge deck, painting of the entire structure and other miscellaneous pier and abutment repairs.

Swan said a detour, similar to the one in place during the West Kittanning Bridge project that was completed last year, will be in place while the work is done because the project would require crews to place containment covers for the paint work, as well as repairs to the expansion dams.

When asked why the project wasn't tied in to the other project because of the detour that was in place, Swan said it was a matter of funding.

"It would have a perfect time to the project, I agree, but there just was no funding available to do it," he said. "We understand that the detour creates an inconvenience, but all we can do is ask drivers to be patient as the work occurs."

The Citizens Bridge is being considered for the work as part of PennDOT's philosophy of "keeping good bridges good," Swan said.

"The bridge is not on the list of structurally deficient bridges and the idea of doing a rehabilitation project hopefully will keep the bridge from getting on the list," he said.

The Briar Hill Road Bridge, which carries Freeport Road over Routes 28 and 422 in East Franklin, is, however, on the structurally deficient list, but PennDOT announced last month that the project also will have to wait for funding before work is completed.

"PennDOT uses a two-prong approach to projects and both projects are on different prongs," Swan said. "The Briar Hill Road Bridge is one that will require a complete replacement of the bridge and is much more costly than the project being considered for the Citizens Bridge."

Swan said the design phase of the Briar Hill Road Bridge is complete and includes replacing the beams and deck and replacing the piers. He could not provide a cost estimate on the project. He noted that even though the bridge is listed as being structurally deficient, does not mean the bridge is unsafe.

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