Bridging the gap

MIFFLINTOWN – The final phase of one of the largest transportation projects in central Pennsylvania is well under way, with the construction of a new pedestrian bridge spanning the Juniata River, which will link the boroughs of Mifflin and Mifflintown.

The new pedestrian bridge will be located in the same spot of the former state Route 35 bridge, which was dismantled in April.

As part of the project, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has modified the traffic pattern at the intersection of Bridge and Main streets in Mifflintown. The new signs are in place above the intersection, however, the lines have not been painted on the road. Project Manager Greg Sidorick said there will be a crew out on Wednesday to paint the lines. Initially, the lines were supposed to be painted last week, but rainy weather caused the delay. The former left turning lane is now the lane to continue along Main Street, while the right lane will be for right turns.

While dismantling the old bridge, crews also constructed a causeway on the Mifflintown side to gain access to river in order to drill down and set new piers in place.

Sidorick said three of the four caissons have been drilled for the piers.

The causeway has allowed workers access to the project, while at the same time keeping the river open for recreational use.

Sidorick said he expects to be putting beams in place by Labor Day, and for the bridge to be finished by the end of this construction season.

There are a few other small tasks to complete for the overall project, including some retaining ponds and the repaving of a portion of Juniata Street in Mifflin.

The $16 million state Route 35 River Bridge project began in the summer of 2011, with construction of a new bridge over the railroad tracks in Mifflin, and completion of a roundabout in front of Tuscarora Junior High School in Mifflintown.

The new river bridge, located slightly downriver from the original, opened to traffic in December.