MAHONING — It’s only a bridge over a creek in a remote area of Armstrong and Clarion counties with no more than 80 vehicles crossing a day, but the new Climax Bridge bridges the needs of two counties, said state, county and local officials at its opening Thursday.
“It’s the linkage,” said Armstrong County Commissioner Chairwoman Patty Kirkpatrick. “Anything that benefits the citizens of the two counties is a good thing. It’s a vital link for nearby residents and those traveling through the counties.”
The Climax Bridge is on the Armstrong and Clarion county line along township road 970 (Climax Road) spanning Redbank Creek next to the village of Climax between Mahoning in Armstrong and Porter in Clarion.
The bridge is owned and maintained by Armstrong which has a cooperative agreement with Clarion to share maintenance costs. Armstrong shares several other bridges with neighboring counties, officials said.
It replaces the former bridge which was an open-grate, single lane, about 11-foot wide, steel girder truss structure. The old bridge was built more than a century ago for a brick refractory in Climax to connect to the railroad. Contractors demolished it last year to make way for the site of the new bridge.
The new $1.9 million Climax Bridge is a 260-foot-long, one-lane structure over the creek. It is two spans of continuous steel girder and is about 15 feet wide curb to curb. The bridge has a concrete deck sealed with a penetrating protective coating sealer.
PennDOT and county officials determined that the structure did not have enough traffic to warrant the cost of constructing a two-lane bridge. Armstrong County Commissioner Rich Fink agreed with keeping the bridge one lane, which he said would have added $1 million to the cost.
“That’s smart-sizing,” said Fink of the savings. “One lane — it fits here.”
The bridge was designed by Widmer Engineering of Beaver Falls. The contractor was Francis J. Palo of Clarion. Construction began last August.
“The old bridge was in such bad shape, it went down easily,” said Charlie Clark, Palo project manager. “Construction went well on the new bridge. We had no problems on the job.”
“The importance was high for both counties,” said Clarion County Commissioner Chairman Dave Cyphert. “It’s safer and gives an alternative route.”
Fink added that it was important to have a sound bridge in place for emergency services. During 1996 flooding, it was the only transportation route across Redbank Creek, he said.
“The counties are so closely connected,” said state Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion, whose district includes both Porter in Clarion and Mahoning in Armstrong. “What’s good for the area is good for both the counties.”