Mill Hall bridge may close someday

MILL HALL — Church Street Bridge is still open to traffic, but it may be only a matter of time before it is not.

A recent inspection of the bridge revealed that it can continue to take traffic and perhaps will be able to do so for the next six to eight years, borough council heard at its meeting on Aug. 22. However, it will need to be inspected every six months to assure it remains in good enough shape.

Larson Design Group did the inspection, Council Vice President Vincent H. Shay Jr. said. After reading the report, the borough asked for a meeting, and a representative from Larson Design attended and explained it further, he said.

The immediate plans are to leave the bridge open and have it inspected every six months.

Church Street Bridge is one of three bridges crossing Fishing Creek in town, relatively close to each other — and close to a fourth bridge just across the borough line, on Route 150. The borough owns the bridge at Church Street, PennDOT owns the new Main Street Bridge, and Clinton County owns Peale Avenue Bridge.

Council members talked about trying for a state grant to improve the borough’s bridge. Pouring a new concrete deck might give the bridge another 40 years of life but it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Closing the bridge to vehicles but allowing it to remain open to pedestrians would cost less and would be cheaper than demolishing it and replacing it with a steel walking bridge.

“What is the point of that bridge?” asked Todd Pysher, the borough engineer.

Shay replied that children walk across it to get to their school bus.

Councilman Roland E. Weaver seemed to agree with Pysher’s unspoken assessment that the bridge could be closed and not missed greatly. Weaver said he always wants to see the borough’s infrastructure improved, but the sharp, 90-degree approach to the bridge on the Water Street side cannot be improved.