MERCER – The Mercer County commissioners have hired a contractor to repair nine county-owned bridges that will double their service life.

The work to be done is invert paving of seven culverts, underpinning of two bridges and scouring countermeasures at nine locations.

The cost of the invert paving work is $267,655 and will be paid to Shingledecker Welding, Franklin, the lowest bidder.

The bridges being repaired are on:

• South Barry Road and South Maysville Road, both in West Salem Township

• Pilgrim Road, Otter Creek Township

• Klein Road, Mill Creek Township

• Mortimer Road, South Pymatuning Township

• Triple Link Road, Sandy Lake Township

• Bend Road, Jefferson Township

• McConnell Road, Lackawannock Township

• East Gilmore Road, Wolf Creek Township.

Mercer County Commissioners in 2019 estimated that the county will have to pay about $30 million over the next 10 years to replace deteriorating spans. Commissioner Matt McConnell said that is an estimate.

That doesn’t count projects like the Kelly Road bridges in Sharpsville and Hermitage, or the Ohl Street Bridge in Greenville, already funded under the PennDOT Transportation Improvement Plan.

The county is responsible for 247 bridges, with three being culverts 4 feet long or shorter. The remaining spans range from culverts 8 feet long up to Mercer County’s longest bridge, the 314-foot-long Oakland Avenue viaduct in Sharon.

County Bridge Engineer Brad Elder said in 2019 that the county has to find enough money, about $3 million a year for the next 10 years, to replace 35 more bridges.

At their latest meeting, the county commissioners commented on how the quest to repair bridges in the county has been moving along over the past two years.

“Have we fallen behind? I think not,” McConnell said. “We have gotten more proactive.”

He said commissioners have come up with more money out of the general fund as well as bond financing to address the issue.

He said rarely does a county have all their bridges at 100% because they start depreciating from day one. But the bridges are regularly inspected by Elder and his crew.

“We want to make sure that lives are protected by not having anybody go across faulty bridges,” McConnell said.

Commissioners are also hoping that more money comes down from the federal or state government that will help infrastructure in the county.

“We keep hearing about infrastructure every day,” McConnell said. “I wish it would come down to Mercer County, because we control a lot of bridges compared to other counties.”

McConnell said the county is actually ahead of previous plans. Commissioner Scott Boyd agreed.

“We’re in a better position than we were for many, many years because we have the financing lined up,” Boyd said. “Hopefully more infrastructure financing is coming, so we’re off to a great start.”

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

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