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On Its Way: Historic Bridge Disassembled for Replacement and Reuse

January 26, 2022 12:00 PM
By: Jill Harry

It was an all-day affair to remove the historic Kelly Road Truss Bridge from over the Shenango River in Mercer County.

The steel thru truss structure was one of two one-lane bridges in the area. It was built in 1897 but has been closed since 2005 due to severe deterioration.

Next to the 125-year-old bridge is a two-span, rolled I-beam stringer bridge built in 1967. It is classified as poor condition.

Traffic currently uses the "newer" of the two bridges with traffic controlled, formally by stop signs, but currently by temporary signals.

Work to replace the bridges, which are owned by Mercer County and connect the City of Hermitage and Sharpsville Borough, started in early November.

Work includes replacing the existing open-grid bridges with a one-span steel girder bridge with sidewalk and two 10-foot travel lanes. The project also includes new roadway approaches and updated guiderail.

To make room for the new bridge, the old ones will have to go. The I-beam stringer bridge will eventually be demolished, but the truss bridge will be refurbished and repurposed in part. Portions of the historic structure will be installed on a walking trail in a nearby park.

The process of making that happen started in November when workers began the preparation process to remove the truss in sections. On December 7, 30- to 40-foot sections of the bridge, which weighed 20 to 30 tons per piece, were hoisted into the air and moved to a nearby landing spot. The process took 12 chilly hours but was completed in a single day.

"We used every bit of sunlight to finish the work, but the team was great and made it happen," said PennDOT project manager Nik Tsikouris.

Once on land, the bridge was further disassembled and taken to a workshop to be repaired and painted.

In 2022, the end portals of the bridge will be reassembled for use by cyclists and pedestrians to use. The work is for historic preservation and it will no longer sit over water.

The contractor is Mekis Construction Corporation of Fenelton, PA. The contract cost is about $4 million. Work is expected to be completed early in the 2023 construction season.

This is the second locally-owned truss bridge District 1 helped remove and refurbish this year. In July, the Messerall Truss Bridge in Crawford County was moved in one piece.

Through a partnership with the Department of Conversation and Natural Resources, the bridge will be refurbished and relocated to Pymatuning State Park next year as part of the bike trail system.

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