N. Franklin mulls mall bridge replacement

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North Franklin Township officials are seeking money to replace a bridge that carries traffic over a stream into Washington Crown Center mall, a project that is expected to cost $1.1 million.


Township business manager William Boucher said the township planning commission is discussing options to replace the short span off Franklin Farms Road.


“It’s been the belief all along that the township owns the bridge,” he said Tuesday as he prepared to meet with mall officials about the project.


The bridge became a focus of attention after a badly deteriorated, 60-ton section of an Interstate 70 overpass collapsed under its own weight in December 2005. Like that bridge, the mall span was constructed using concrete box beams.


The state then launched a program to replace all state-owned bridges built in that style, leaving North Franklin on its own to replace the one there.


“We’ve been pulled into this because it’s that type of construction,” Boucher said.


The township’s application for a grant from the local share of the receipts from Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane Township was shot down this year. There has been $200,000 contributed toward the project by the township, mall and the township Recreation and Business Improvement Authority.


Boucher said the township may apply with more matching money next year under the slots grant’s new distressed bridge fund.


In the meantime, rows of orange tubes have been placed along the bridge’s berms to keep vehicles off the areas of the span that could be under stress.


Mall spokesman Michael Joyce could not be reached Tuesday.


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