By Keith Gushard
“We should finally see vehicles crossing that bridge in 2014,” Jack Lynch, Crawford County commissioner, said in reference to the building of a new Mead Avenue Bridge.
The current bridge has been closed more than five and one-half years after an inspection revealed structural concerns.
However, construction of a new bridge is anticipated to start next summer with completion by the fall of 2014. The plans and construction schedule for the new bridge will be on display at an open house Dec. 11 in Meadville, with event hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Crawford County.
“It’s a chance for the public to review plans, discuss the schedule with the project team’s members and find out more,” said Jim Carroll, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The county-owned Mead Avenue Bridge, which spans French Creek to connect Meadville with Vernon Township, closed in March 2007 after an inspection by the county and EADs Group, the county’s engineering firm.
Though the county owns the bridge, the federal and state governments are involved because they are funding the replacement.
The federal Highway Administration is paying 80 percent of the cost; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 15 percent; and PennDOT is picking up the county’s 5 percent because Crawford County is classified as a low- to moderate-income county, Lynch said.
Lynch said he understands the public’s frustration over not seeing any visible signs of progress for years.
However, “It’s in the final leg of work, with right of way negotiations going on,” Lynch said last week. He has been involved in the project since his days as county planning director, prior to his election as a county commissioner in 2011.
There also still is some surveying work on the west side of the bridge to be done since the intersection of Route 102 and the bridge is to be realigned, Lynch said.
The final roadway design and traffic control plans are 75 percent complete, according to PennDOT.
All preparation work for the project is scheduled to be completed by May, with bids for the construction work to be opened in June, according to PennDOT. Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall next year, with completion by fall 2014.
You can go
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Crawford County Board of Commissioners host an open house/plans display on the Mead Avenue Bridge project Dec. 11 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the William J. Douglas Jr. Corporate Conference Center, 764 Bessemer St., Meadville.
More information on the Mead Avenue Bridge including a project schedule: Go to meadvillebridge.com.