Grant St. bridge may reopen for pedestrians

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Grant Street bridge could be reopened to pedestrian traffic, but only if engineers can find a safe way to do it.
City officials closed the bridge earlier this month to both vehicles and pedestrians on the recommendation of Ron Rizzo of R.A.R. Engineering Group Inc. of New Castle. Rizzo has said the bridge won't collapse, but there are places where a vehicle might fall through. He said the bridge has severe structural problems, especially with the bridge deck.
City Administrator John DiMuccio said Rizzo will investigate where on the bridge, if anywhere, a section could be made more secure to allow pedestrian traffic.
West side residents who have attended recent council meetings since the bridge closed said children who live on the west side of New Castle have farther to walk to school because they can't use the bridge.
City crews placed barriers on the bridge to deter pedestrian and vehicle traffic, but worried residents told the council that some children are crossing the bridge anyway. They said jumping the barriers causes more of a hazard to the children than crossing the bridge.
The bridge spans the Shenango River in the downtown area. Motorists and pedestrians now must use Samson and Falls streets to cross the river.