Workers turned down jobs because they feared crossing the existing bridge.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
STRUTHERS -- The Walton Avenue bridge won't just open 325 acres of brownfield to new business, it will enhance the safety of workers and improve transportation of products already produced there.
"I can't say construction of the bridge will help our sales," said Carrie Casey, president of Casey Equipment, which buys and sells used steel mill equipment, "but it will make everything much easier."
Casey owns a 1 million-square-foot facility on 60 fenced acres near where the new bridge will land.
As is, Casey said, traffic into and out of the site slows to a stop whenever her company transports large pieces of equipment because trucks that make wide turns block the narrow industrial road.
Traveling across the single-lane railroad bridge could also be dangerous, she said.
"I've had a couple of potential employees tell me they don't want to work here because they don't want to cross that bridge," added Tom Carter, site manager for Allegheny Heat Treating Youngstown, which leases space in the Casey complex. "I'm always hearing from truckers that they're afraid going across that bridge."
Once the new bridge is built, Carter said, "It'll make our employees happier. It will probably take five minutes off their commute."
It's slow going over the gravel road that winds into the industrial area, agreed Carl N. Ezzo, general manager at Quality Bar, which also leases space from Casey. Trains traveling along the tracks that the road crosses and vehicles traveling in opposite directions over the single-lane bridge cause further delays.
Ezzo said Quality Bar employees will be happier too, once the Walton Avenue bridge is complete and driving to work is easier on their cars.
Good for business
Business at Allegheny Heat Treating, which heat treats large steel round bars, and Quality Bar, which produces turned, ground and polished cold bar from 3/4" to 8" diameter, will grow whether or not the bridge is built, Carter and Ezzo agreed. The new bridge will, however, improve customers' perceptions of their companies and make their employees' lives easier, the men said.
Casey, Carter and Ezzo all believe completion of the bridge will also spur development.
"There's a lot of land down here," Carter said, it just isn't very easy to get to.
About 300,000 square feet in Casey's complex remains vacant, but once the bridge improves accessibility, she said more companies may be interested in locating there. Of course, they would have to complement companies already housed there, Casey said.
"We did not build a bridge to nowhere," emphasized Struthers Mayor Dan Mamula, responding to negative comments. "Ask any of the businesses located in close proximity to that bridge."