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Bridge repair limits access

James Musta isn’t looking forward to carrying groceries over a footbridge or having to cross the span to put the garbage out.

But that’s what the 32-year-old Moon resident and his Thorn Hollow Drive neighbors will be forced to do for a month while township workers replace the rusted-out, two-lane bridge that connects their homes to the outside world.

“Everybody’s wondering why it’s going to take so long,” said Musta, who lives at the end of Thorn Hollow just outside of Coraopolis. “You can build a house in a month. This bridge ain’t nothing.

“What are we going to do about our mail, newspaper delivery, everything?”

The 18-year-old bridge spans 18 feet over Thorn Run Creek. Moon Manager Greg Smith said township workers about a week ago were clearing debris from under the bridge in anticipation of heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Isabel when they discovered the bridge’s steel had rusted out.

Because Thorn Hollow is a dead end, a footbridge that will be built will be the only access to about 20 homes on the opposite side of the bridge during construction, Smith said. The distance from the start of the bridge to Musta’s home at the far end of Thorn Hollow is three-tenths of a mile.

There is no way to create another access to the area, he said.

“It will be an inconvenience, no doubt about it,” Smith said.

Residents of the area include an 80-year-old man who uses a walker and has a home nurse and several others who are elderly or ill, Musta said. Bob Zimmerman Sr., 62, has serious heart problems, his son, Bob Jr., 29, said.

Zimmerman Jr. worries that it will take ambulance crews longer to reach the area on foot. Ambulances are called to the area four to five times a year for an older couple with health problems, he said.

“Most of the time when my dad has trouble he rides it out,” Zimmerman Jr. said. “It’s not really my concern, but I’m sure some of the other neighbors have thought about it.”

The township will save as much as $140,000 by having its own road department build the new bridge instead of hiring a private contractor, Smith said. It is estimated to cost about $20,400, compared to the $125,000 to $160,000 it could cost if the work was contracted.

Smith could not say when work would begin, but said the township will move quickly.

Smith said he has discussed emergency preparations with the township’s police and fire departments and Valley Ambulance. The fire department will leave a truck at the end of the street during construction, Smith said. A representative of Valley Ambulance could not be reached for comment.

Musta said he and his neighbors are also worried about the security of their cars, which they’ll have to leave parked before the bridge.

Police Capt. Leo McCarthy said the department will provide “dramatic increased patrols.”

“We’ll do our best to keep an eye on the place,” McCarthy said.

While Smith said the township only recently discovered the bridge’s deteriorated condition, Musta, who has lived on the road for 15 years, said it has been in bad shape for a long time. Zimmerman Jr., who lives four doors up from the bridge, said the bridge rattles and shakes loudly.

“The garbage trucks won’t come across it no more. They’ve been sending pickup trucks up there,” he said.

But Zimmerman Sr. said he understands that the bridge, the surface of which is a steel plate, needs to be replaced.

“It was a thick plate at one time, but it ain’t no more. It’s worn out,” he said. “They have to do it. It was only a matter of when and how long it will take.”

Smith said the new bridge will be better than the old one, with a concrete deck instead of steel, and should last about 40 years.


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