SHARON Viaduct implosion leaves freeway closed

The falling bridge caused more damage to the road surface than anticipated.
SHARON, Pa. -- The Shenango Valley Freeway beneath the Oakland Avenue Viaduct didn't reopen as scheduled this morning.
The viaduct was imploded Saturday at noon, dropping the concrete structure onto the four-lane freeway below.
The blow apparently caused some damage to the road surface, despite a six-foot mound of dirt placed on the road before the bridge fell.
The bridge is being replaced by Mercer County in a $3.6 million project funded with federal and state tax dollars.
Tried to prevent: The freeway was closed Wednesday between Stambaugh and Sharpsville avenues to allow the demolition crew time to prepare for Saturday's implosion. That work included building up an earthen cushion to protect the roadway from the falling concrete.
Demolition crews immediately began clearing debris. The plan was for two lanes to reopen early today, but that didn't happen.
Police said the contractor informed them overnight that there was more damage to the road surface than anticipated and the freeway probably wouldn't be opened at all today.
Efforts to reach the Mercer County Bridge Department for information on the damage and a new date for reopening the freeway were unsuccessful.
The freeway will be closed again later during the replacement project. Mark Miller, county bridge engineer, had said previously that the road will have to be closed for a couple of days when the contractor gets ready to erect major steel trusses for the new bridge.
No date for that closing has been set.

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