ELLWOOD CITY — At the Second Street overpass’ south end, a Mekis Construction truck sat Tuesday afternoon blocking both lanes to keep people from trying to use the new bridge — which looks finished but isn’t.

By Friday, the truck, construction equipment, signs and pylons are expected to be gone. IMG_8232The overpass, closed since March, will reopen that day for traffic. The return will alleviate traffic difficulties from during the roadwork that shut off the most used bypass around Ellwood City’s main business district.

The bridge, which carries Second Street/Route 288 over a rail line that runs through Ellwood City, will reopen as scheduled when work began in March.

Closure of the bridge affected student bus routes and funneled traffic in front of Hartman Intermediate School for most of the last three months of school this year. Restrictions prohibiting weekday parking along Fourth Street and Crescent Avenue between Second and Fourth streets, established in anticipation of increased traffic on those roads, will be lifted after the bridge opens.

The work also had an impact on emergency responders as recently as Tuesday afternoon, when the Ellwood City Fire Department responded to a report of a house fire in the 200 block of Second Street near the overpass’ north end. As it turned out, the fire was confined to a stove and caused some smoke and little damage.

Fire Chief Rick Myers said he looks forward to the bridge reopening, which he expects to decrease emergency response times.

“They won’t have to go all the way around to get to that section of Second Street,” Myers said.

On Tuesday, workers were putting the final touches on the new bridge, including installation of nine light-emitting diode streetlights manufactured by Wayne Township-based Appalachian Lighting Systems. Kate Wassel of Appalachian Lighting said each of the devices uses 90 watts of electricity to generate the equivalent light of approximately 400 watts — a savings of more than 75 percent.

Wassel said former Ellwood City Borough Manager Dom Viccari, a longtime booster of the company, demanded use of Appalachian Lighting devices on the bridge early in construction planning. Appalachian Lighting has manufactured all of Ellwood City’s streetlights, as well as the streetlights in Welland, Ontario.

As posted on July 15, 2015 on ellwoodcityledger.com by Eric Poole