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New Kensington bridge opening delayed

| Monday, Aug. 13, 2007

Valley High School students who usually ride to school across the Seventh Street Bridge will have to adjust to a detour for at least the first month of school.

PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said the bridge in New Kensington was scheduled to be completed by Aug. 28 before school started but after a delay in receiving a part, the bridge will remain closed until the end of September.

New Kensington-Arnold School District superintendent George Batterson said buses that normally cross the bridge will have to be rerouted and some students will have to get their bus at a different stop.

A pedestrian walkway will be open over the bridge, but no vehicles will be able to cross.

He said the district learned of the problem in the middle of last week but will adjust to the situation.

Batterson said the district will notify students of the change soon.

Students living in Arnold and the downtown and some hill sections of New Kensington are likely to be most affected since Seventh Street provides the quickest vehicle access to the high school for them.

The aging bridge spans Puckety Creek, near the intersection of Seventh Street and Stevenson Boulevard (Route 366). It was closed June 8 so the entire structure could be replaced.

Bill Lowry, assistant construction executive for PennDOT District 12, which includes Westmoreland County, said prior to the start of construction that the agency wanted to complete the $582,000 project before the start of school.

"We talked about holding that (the start) off until after the U.S. Open, but we made a commitment to get that thing replaced before school starts," Lowry said at the end of May. The U.S. Open Golf Championship at the Oakmont Country Club began the week of June 11 and was the focus of traffic concerns in the area.

Although other work on the bridge can be done, the wait for the part will push the completion day back three or four weeks, Petersen said.

She said PennDOT has been in communication with the school district and the police department to coordinate the start of school.

The official detour leads through the Parnassus Triangle though many vehicles use Linden Avenue to bypass the closure.

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