Connellsville groups unite in attempt to save bridge
Two Connellsville agencies are joining forces in opposing the proposed demolition of the Western Maryland Railroad bridge across the Youghiogheny River.
The city's redevelopment authority has lent its support to the municipal authority, which has raised objections to the plan.
Two redevelopment authority officials -- Michael Edwards, executive director, and Todd Reagan, vice chairman -- attended a recent municipal authority meeting in which authority board members objected to giving their right of way for the bridge to be imploded and hauled away for scrap.
"It's irreplaceable if it's torn down," authority Chairman Dexton Reed said at Thursday's regular meeting. "There is very little information on the bridge's ownership. The railroad quit passenger service 35 years ago. (The bridge) would be a future link to Westmoreland County on the trail. Users wouldn't have to use Route 119."
Reagan called the bridge "a community monument. Like the big buildings in town, it's a monument, it means something to people."
Edwards said Cathy McCollom of the Progress Fund would like the bridge to be lighted.
Engineer Glenn Wolfe suggested the authority send a letter to the municipal authority objecting to a possible demolition and encouraged officers of the Yough River Trail Council and the Regional Trail Corp. to do the same. The authority board approved a motion to send a letter against the bridge's destruction.
In other business:
• The board approved paying M&D Excavating, Connellsville, $19,693.45 for completing the first phase of the Yough River Park improvement project. The plaza and tables have been installed, as have two water fountains.
• Phase II, budgeted at $402,000, will be paid for with $204,500 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, other grants and in-kind services. It will include replacing playground equipment at Yough Park and installing a tot lot, connecting the trail under the bridge, making Torrance Avenue bikes and pedestrians only, and installing backless benches where the boardwalk stood.
• The board voted to retain the same officers: Chairman Dexton Reed, Vice Chairman Todd Reagan and Secretary/Treasurer Victor Gasbarro.