By Courtney L. Saylor
Herald Staff Writer
Sparks flew Monday from the skeleton of a rotted bridge over Pine Run that generations of Sharonites crossed to get to school.
Armed with cutting torches, members of the Sharon Sanitary Authority peeled back the rusted metal deck connecting a field off Memorial Boulevard with the Shenango Valley Freeway and hauled it away.
The footbridge has been out of commission since fall 2010 when the city closed it due to its deteriorating condition.
“Safety is the main concern,” City Manager Scott Andrejchak said of the decision to tear the fenced off structure down more than two years later.
Brian Kepple, a leader in many city service groups and boards, said people are worried.
“The kids are jumping that,” he said of the barrier and waterway.
Kepple is heading a group of community activists working with the city and school district to get a new bridge installed there after the old one’s removed.
Sanitary Authority Manager Guy Cunningham said they planned to also remove the corroded beams that are the base of the bridge.
He said they’ll sell the metal to a scrapyard and put the money toward the new bridge effort. The old one is too far gone to be repaired, officials have said.
Andrejchak said they’re working to determine the best way to reconstruct the bridge and would like to see it happen “sooner rather than later.
“As I understand it it’s necessary for that area,” Andrejchak said.
Kepple said a wooden structure might be the most cost-effective option and welcome donations of talent, time and money toward the project.
They’re pursuing funding, Andrejchak said, and a group has organized a fund for donations at the Community Foundation of the Shenango Valley.
Donations can go to the Memorial Footbridge Renovation at the Community Foundation, 7 W. State St., Sharon.
Since the footbridge closed, kids who used it to get to and from school either risked jumping the stream or walked two blocks east to cross the highway at Spencer Avenue, the closest intersection with a traffic light. Sharon does not have busing for students.
Kepple said they believe the bridge went up in the 1930s and the metal span retired two winters ago was built in the late 1950s.