State, county and local officials discuss repairs of ‘challenging’ bridges

State, county and local government officials came together Thursday to discuss the uses of a $1.365 million Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grant that will fix three structurally deficient bridges in Centre County.

Lower Coleville Road bridge in Spring Township, Front Street bridge in Curtin Township and Fox Gap Road bridge in Miles Township are the recipients of the PennDOT grant.

The grant, coupled with $585,000 from the county’s Act 13 “At Risk Local Bridge” funds, bring the project total to $1.95 million.

Lower Coleville Road bridge is 53 years old and has been deteriorating for several years, said Spring Township Supervisor Dave Capperella. PennDOT reduced its two-year inspections to every six months due to the poor condition of the bridge.

“This is one of only two bridges that serve this portion of Spring Township as well as the Valley View and Purdue Valley areas of Benner Township,” Capperella said. “This challenged bridge has created some problems for us in the past.”

The cost of fixing Lower Coleville Road bridge is around $800,000. “For small municipalities like Spring Township, $800,000 is a little difficult to come by,” Capperella said.

Front Street bridge, which is “virtually the only access” in and out of Orviston, will also cost around $800,000 to fix and Fox Gap Road bridge will cost about $350,000.

Plans for Lower Coleville Road bridge include completely replacing the superstructure and rehabilitating and reusing the existing abutments. On the Front Street bridge, plans include rehabilitating abutments, replacing two concrete beams with new, pre-stressed concrete beams and installing a new composite concrete deck, parapets and approach guide rails. For Fox Gap Road bridge, plans include installing a new composite concrete bridge deck, increasing the parapet height and adjusting or replacing the guide rail approaches.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, talked about Purdue Mountain Road getting washed out from flooding in 2016, blocking access to Purdue Mountain and forcing residents to take eight-mile detours to get to their houses.

“When infrastructure breaks down, you have these types of problems,” he said. “And make no mistake about it: if this (bridge) funding was not secured, and nothing was done, eventually, PennDOT would’ve shut these bridges down.”

Mike Bloom, assistant director of the Centre County Community Development and Planning department, said the project engineer and timeline still needs to be worked out. For construction, he said, the county intends to maintain one lane of both Front Street and Fox Gap Road bridges open so residents can travel in and out.

“The last thing we would ever want to do is cut off access to a community,” he said.