White Bridge use explored

Commissioners consider opening structure to bikes, pedestrians

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The 90-year-old White Bridge in Frankstown Township used to be a shortcut across the Little Juniata River for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

That ended in April 2013 when Blair County closed the aged structure to all vehicles and in Septem­ber 2014 when pedestrians and bicyclists were barred, too.

In 2015, commissioners talked about setting aside money to tear down the bridge.

But it still stands.

When commissioners met Tuesday, they acknow­ledged an interest in exploring the option of reopening the bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see it used as a vehicular bridge again,” Com­missioner Ted Beam Jr. said.

Beam and fellow commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb and Terry Tomassetti voted in favor of permitting Brian Wiser of Keller Engineers, at a cost of $1,690, to prepare a grant application that could outline the costs and work required for reopening White Bridge for restricted use.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting grant applications, through April 10, for recreation and conservation projects, through its Conservation Partnership Program. Money is available to award grants through the state’s Keystone Fund, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018.

County Administrator Helen Schmitt, who monitors the county’s use of money for bridge and road projects, said Tuesday that a DCNR grant could help the county by identifying what money could be available to put toward the project. But as of Tuesday, no commissioners offered a firm commitment toward the bridge’s future.

When discussing demolition in 2015, Wiser suggested that the tear-down and engineering costs could add up to about $165,000 because the structure, due to its size and beams, will require use of a crane. Commissioners have shown no interest in replacing the structure. In 2015, Wiser identified that cost at $2.75 million.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.