The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has completed repairs to the historic bridge that carries Petroleum Center Road (Route 1004) over Oil Creek in Cornplanter Township, Venango County and it is now open to pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Petroleum Center Bridge is located within Oil Creek State Park near the intersection with Russell Corners Road. With parking lots available on both sides of the bridge, the reopening will reconnect visitors to all the amenities at the heart of the park without the need to drive the detour, including access to and from the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad station, the park office, the bike trail, and the Egbert Farm Day Use Area.
In the interest of public safety, the 139-year-old bridge was closed in October 2022 due to advanced deterioration and structural concerns discovered during a routine inspection. In spring, 2023, further inspections were conducted, and plans were created that would allow the bridge to be reopened to non-motorized users.
Earlier this month employees from the Venango County maintenance facility under the guidance of historic bridge consultant Gannett Fleming and PennDOT engineering staff started making repairs to secure the bridge's truss system and then installed bollards on the roadway at both ends of the structure to prohibit vehicles from using the crossing.
The bridge will remain closed to motorized vehicles until further repairs can be made. Preliminary design work for those repairs began in 2022 and continues in 2023. A construction contract for work needed to reopen the bridge to vehicles is tentatively scheduled to be awarded in 2026.
A motorized vehicle detour is posted using Route 8, Route 227, State Park Road, and Petroleum Center Road.
The single-lane steel through truss bridge was built in 1884 and was rehabilitated in 1984. The bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its engineering significance, which includes its distinct design and its standing as an example of work done by the Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio. Due to its condition, the bridge is on a six-month inspection cycle.
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