SUV driver gets into a jam crossing New Stanton pedestrian bridge
Jessica Magyor couldn’t believe her eyes when she looked up from the passenger seat of a vehicle on Interstate 70 and spotted a white sport utility vehicle on the pedestrian bridge over the highway in New Stanton.
So the driver took the exit, and Magyor snapped a cellphone photo as proof as she watched the male driver of the SUV try to maneuver Monday off the north end of the span, where it connects with a 90-degree left turn to a descending ramp.
“It was definitely something crazy,” said Magyor of Mt. Pleasant Township. Magyor’s photo, posted on social media, shows what appears to be a small SUV on the bridge.
“Eventually, he got the whole way to where the sidewalk stops,” she said. Apparently unable to go any farther, “finally, he started backing up.”
“I don’t know what the guy was thinking,” she said. “There’s construction going on right where he would have had to get on the bridge,” from Pennsylvania Avenue, on the south side of I-70.
Officials don’t know who the driver was, but it appears he was able to back off the bridge and get out of the tight spot. Rob Cammarata, chief of the New Stanton Volunteer Fire Department, said firefighters were dispatched about 4 p.m. Monday and found the vehicle was gone.
Joseph B. Fay Co., which was hired by PennDOT to improve I-70 and adjacent sections of Center Avenue in New Stanton, placed a concrete barrier at the southern end of the bridge so another driver can’t attempt the prohibited crossing, Cammarata said.
PennDOT engineer Dominec Caruso said there was no apparent structural damage to the steel bridge, which remained open for pedestrian use, but a more detailed inspection of the state-owned span was planned.
There are no security cameras pointed at the bridge that might have helped to identify the vehicle, Caruso said. He said the driver apparently “did it intentionally,” noting that signs directing traffic around a closed vehicular bridge across I-70 on Center don’t point motorists toward the pedestrian crossing.
Cammarata said the bridge is “clearly marked for pedestrians only” but is infrequently used. “It’s so far out from any residential district,” he said.
With traffic passing beneath the bridge as the unknown driver tried to force the vehicle across it, “It could have been a disaster,” New Stanton Borough Manager Jeff McLaughlin said.
After Fay completes replacement of the Center Avenue bridge, the pedestrian span is to be moved to a location on a trail in Fayette County.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].