The Sheffield Street bridge that carries traffic over Interstate 70 at the Jessop Place exit reopened Friday morning following a six-month reconstruction project on the span.
The state Department of Transportation announced the opening of the $1.7 million bridge after the route was closed in early March so crews could replace the structurally deficient span in Canton Township.
The new bridge, which was completed by Golden Triangle Construction of Imperial two months before schedule, now has two 24-foot-wide lanes with 8-foot shoulders on either side. The original bridge was built in 1960, PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said.
Motorists had been using a two-mile detour around the area during the construction project.
However, the construction project proved to be more cumbersome for truckers trying to make it to Jefferson Avenue. Since September 2009, the Jessop Place exit has been used by westbound truckers as a way to turn around to get onto Jefferson Avenue after that exit’s westbound off-ramp was closed to tractor-trailers. The construction forced truckers to continue on I-70 until the West Chestnut Street exit as the new detour.
It also created a longer detour for Canton Township volunteer firefighters coming from their station on Weirich Avenue.
The closure of the nearby Caldwell Avenue bridge over I-70 more than seven years ago left Sheffield Street as the best option for crews to respond to emergencies in the small sliver of the township southeast of the highway. But with the closure of Sheffield, Canton Township firefighters worked closely with their colleagues in Washington and North Franklin to help with the response. However, no major problems were reported during the construction period.
There is no timeline for reconstruction of the Caldwell Avenue bridge, which is located adjacent to the former Molycorp site, until the required environmental clearances are obtained to make sure there is no contamination in the area.