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PennDOT to discuss Freeport Bridge

| Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006

PennDOT will hold a public meeting on Friday to talk about the 3-ton weight restriction and emergency repairs for Freeport Bridge.

Several PennDOT officials, including representatives of the bridge, design and construction units, will explain the bridge's condition, emergency repair plans and detours, according to Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for District 12.

The Freeport Bridge was restricted to a 3-ton weight limit last week, after an inspection showed the steel was deteriorating, leaving any vehicles exceeding 6,000 pounds -- including ambulances, fire trucks and school buses -- with a detour of about 20 miles.

The bridge carries Route 356 over the Allegheny River between Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.

Ofsanik said more information should be available by Friday, such as a time frame for construction, as bids for the emergency repairs come back.

"We'll start the meeting out by giving information first, then field any questions," Ofsanik said.

"We're encouraging people to come out who have any questions and want to know what's going on," Ofsanik said. "We understand it's a huge concern, and we're doing everything to expedite getting the bridge repaired and back in service."

Local officials and state lawmakers also have been invited to attend.

PennDOT estimates that emergency repairs will cost between $2.5 million to $3 million and take several months to complete. A full rehabilitation would cost between $30 million and $50 million.

In the meantime, three metered parking spaces have been eliminated along Fifth Street to give trucks coming from South Buffalo Township and Route 28 enough room to turn around to avoid the bridge, according to Freeport Councilman James Seagriff Jr.

National City Bank also eliminated parking in front of the ATM at Fifth and High streets, Seagriff said.

Seagriff said several ways are being discussed to alleviate traffic problems and offer easier access to Freeport for heavy vehicles, especially emergency vehicles and school buses. One suggestion is making the one-way Laneville Bridge open to two-way traffic, Seagriff said.

"It's all tentative," Seagriff said. "That's just a suggestion from our end."

Additional Information:

Details

Coming up

Who: PennDOT

What: Public meeting to discuss the Freeport Bridge 3-ton weight restriction and emergency repairs.

When: 1 p.m. Friday.

Where: Freeport Middle School, 325 Fourth St., Freeport.

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