Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Highways

A collection of information and personal research

Reflections of the Sewickley Bridge

By Gloria G. Berry

The following was written for the Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge as one of six reports presented to state and federal officials to substantiate its case for a new bridge, in 1977.

It was near the turn of the century. Sewickley needed a bridge, and the citizens of Sewickley believed the time had arrived to persuade the County of Allegheny to erect one. A "Call" was issued on November 24, 1894, for a public meeting to be held on December 1st "in the rooms of Mr. Gilbert A. Hays, Beaver Street, Sewickley." The "Call" read: "to consider the erection of a free bridge over the Ohio River, from the line between the Borough of Osborne and Sewickley, to a point on the Township Road in Moon Township."

The group was addressed by the Honorable Morrison Foster, a resident of Edgeworth, brother of Stephen C. Foster. He spoke on the need for a bridge, reminding those present that the closest wagon bridge across the Ohio between Pittsburgh and Wheeling is a distance of 100 miles and that commerce between Coraopolis and Sewickley could not begin to exist without a bridge. A 15-member comittee was immediately chosen and agreed to meet the following week.

On December 8th, the Bridge Committee met with representatives from the south shore and discussed the need of a free bridge between the communities.

The next meeting was scheduled for December 29th. On Christmas Day, a blizzard blew into the valley and by December 29th, the river was impassable. The severe winter storm had halted the ferry service, and the south shore representatives were unable to attend the meeting. The valley boasted of two ferry services, Lashell's and Stoop's. Normally dependable, the service could not risk the crossing in severe weather.

January was a month of real formation for the committee, meeting four times during the month. By spring, the Bridge Committee was ready to act and petitioned the Honorable John W. F. White, a resident of Broad Street, Sewickley, and Judge of the Common Please Court, for a new bridge. The site for the bridge was the foot of Chestnut Street, although another site (up-stream) at the foot of Boundary Street had also been considered.

After reviewing the proposal, the County Commissioners traveled to Sewickley to make an "on site" inspection and meet with the leadership of Sewickley and Coraopolis. The Commissioners honored the community with two such visits during July, 1895. Residents hoped the dream of a bridge was soon to become a reality.

Some weeks later, a letter was received informing the committee that the project had been rejected. Records show that the committee continued its efforts until the end of 1895, when it entered a period of slumber.

The Rochester-Monaca Bridge opened for traffic on January 22, 1897, thus providing a bridge over the Ohio between Pittsburgh and Wheeling. In 1906, there was a revival of the leadership of 1895 and a new petition was circulated and presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Allegheny County on November 12th.

On December 8th, the Commissioners voted in favor of a bridge and recommended the County allocate the funds. The report was confirmed by the Court and the approval of the Grand Jury was announced on December 17th.

The approval of the Secretary of War was needed to secure a bridge for Sewickley-Coraopolis. On June 29, 1907, Secretary William F. Taft appointed a Board of Government Engineers to examine the plans and the proposed site. The only remaining step was the necessary funding and on April 10, 1908, the Commissioners filed their report and appropriated funds for the erection of the bridge.

The contract for masonry, for the piers, was let to the Adam Laidlaw Company for $98,907.25, and a contract for $372,400.00 was awarded to the Fort Pitt Bridge Works. The completion date for the new super structure was set for November 30, 1910.

A Jubilee Celebration was held on July 21,1909, inaugurating the first step in the construction of the new Sewickley Bridge with Burgesses A.D. Guy of Coraopolis and W. K. Brown of Sewickley leading the cheers. Fifteen years had passed since the first public meeting was held to consider the building of a bridge.

As the construction progressed month to month, residents of the north and south shores anxiously watched the growth and development of the long awaited bridge. Finally, on May 15,1911, the last span was placed, and the big day of the bridge opening was just around the corner.

Community committees in Sewickley and Coraopolis worked throughout the summer to prepare for the grand opening. The great day arrived, and the dream of the community became a reality. On Tuesday, September 19th, at 10:00 a.m., the Sewickley Committee marched to the center of the bridge where Burgess W. Kennedy Brown greeted Burgess A. D. Guy of Coraopolis, and the bridge was declared open.

Cheers and applauses were heard throughout the hills and valley. The announcement of this new arrival as recorded in the press stated that "It was enormous in size and perfect in proportions." Some vital statistics on the "pride of the community": 2,250 feet long ... 750 feet cantilever span ... a height of 81 feet above pool.

The celebration and christening of the bridge was glorious. The towns were decked in colorful streamers, flags and bunting for the big occasion. A parade from Coraopolis marched into Sewickley and later the Sewickley committees marched to Corapolis. Athletic games, fireworks and hundreds of well wishers joined in the celebration of the "birth of the bridge."

By 1977, the Sewickley-Coraopolis Bridge had seen 66 years of use as a lifeline for people and commerce over the Ohio River. From its prestigious position overlooking the upper Ohio River Valley, 13 miles west of Pittsburgh, it witnessed social, economic and technological changes throughout its lifetime

During its early years it carried pedestrians, horse-drawn wagons, Model T Fords and the street cars (trollies) since 1913. That year the Pittsburgh Railways Company established regular service from Pittsburgh to Sewickley, via Neville Island, Coraopolis and the Sewickley Bridge.

The Ambridge Bridge, downstream, was completed in 1927, Dashields Dam in 1929 and the McKees Rocks Bridge in 1931. The present bridge approach (north shore) was opened in October, 1932. Prior to this time, the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks passed in front of the bridge, and the main approach to the bridge was over Kramer Street and the railroad tracks. The Pennsylvania Railroad had moved the tracks to the river bank in 1928.

At the age of twenty-five, in 1936, our bridge was repaired and painted. Those who depended on it stayed in a single line and continued to cross it during repairs.

In 1942, during World War II, activity centered around the industrial plants of Coraopolis, the shipyards of Neville Island and in Leetsdale, and the then new U.S. Air Base in Moon Township. Military men, "Rosy the Riveter," and blue collar workers streamed across the bridge to mobilize for "Victory."

The Sewickley Bridge in its "Golden Years" had gone through wartime 10's, roaring 20's, depression 30's, war-torn 40's, the fabulous 50's, the soaring 60's and the unpredictable 70's.

The surrounding communities grew and developed. The airport area population has steadily increased: 54 percent in 1951-1961 and 23 percent more between 1961-1971. Heavy usage and lack of care took their toll, so that by the late 70's, the bridge could no longer function.

In 1968, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) hired Green Engineering Company to conduct an inspection of this sick, tired old bridge. The Green Engineering Company's report was finished in 1969 and indicated "some deterioration." During the early 1970's, PennDot requested funds for a detailed report to determine whether the Sewickley Bridge should be replaced. Funds for the study were at last allocated in the 1973-1974 budget.

Finally, in July 1976, PennDot engaged Richardson, Gordon & Associates, consulting engineers, to conduct a detailed inspection of the Sewickley Bridge.

The ailing span was pampered with paint by the Stuart Painting Company in 1972. The painting company walked off the job in 1974 when a 1,000 pound concrete slab of sidewalk fell from the bridge narrowly missing the foreman eating his lunch below. PennDot immediately closed the sidewalks and removed the slabs. The ridge is posted with a three-ton weight limit.

In January, 1976, (the Bicentennial year) Sewickley Mayor William C. Gourley, Jr. and local officials met with a seven-man PennDot delegation at the Sewickley Borough Building. Our grand old span needed help, and the citizens had waited long enough.

February came in like a lion and concerned citizens met at the Sewickley Academy to develop a plan of action to secure repair or replacement of the Sewickley Bridge. The group believed that a commitment must be secured from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania before it was too late for any action except condemnation of the bridge.

The February meeting resulted in the formation of a steering committee. Representatives of the business communities, school districts, Sewickley Valley Hospital, professional groups, concerned citizens, and local government officials joined to spearhead a concerted effort to secure a commitment on the bridge. Mr William R. Jackson, Sr., of Sewickley Heights was named acting chairman.

On Wednesday, May l9th, a luncheon meeting was held at the Edgeworth Club under the sponsorship of the Sewickley Valley Board of Trade and the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce. Allegheny County Commissioner Robert N. Peirce, luncheon speaker, proposed the replacement of the Sewickley Bridge with a new two-lane span. Peirce believed that the community problem could best be solved by the formation of a local authority to cooperate in the experiment with the Federal Goverument. According to the Sewickley Herald (May 26, 1976), "Peirce proposed the alternate to bypass red-tape procedures which could take up to seven years before construction could begin through State-Federal funding."

Following the May gathering, a public meeting was held in June at the Municipal Building in Moon Township. The pro-bridge movement was taking shape, and the leadership was there. PennDot's N.H. Udani, W. Sacco and C. Angelof were present to answer questions but "offered little hope that the State could resolve the bridge problem within the next decade." The Southwestern Regional Planning Agency officials along with representatives of Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Coraopolis, Moon Township, Neville, the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, Sewickley Valley Hospital and the Sewickley Valley Board of Trade were on hand to get the facts.

It was generally agreed that a bridge authority should be formed and that bonds could be floated for the construction of a possible toll bridge. It was also determined that the community leaders must be kept in contact with legislators in order to gain a commitment for a new span.

A sense of complacency settled over the communities as the citizens enjoyed the summer of the Bicentennial. Parades, picnics, concerts and art festivals were only a few of the many ways in which the communities celebrated our nation's 200th Birthday. One of the highlight events for the Upper Ohio Valley was the opening of the new I-79 Bridge at Glenfield and Neville Island.

The $29 million span was opened on September 3, 1976 with a real grass-roots celebration. PennDot had given a glorious Bicentennial gift to the motorists of the Commonwealth.

On January 28, 1977, five months after the grand opening, the 1-79 Bridge was closed. On a very cold winter day, a tugboat captain looked up and saw a crack in the new $29 million bridge.

On January 30, 1977, the 66-year-old Sewickley Bridge was closed. The lifeline was severed: the circulation for our communities stopped. The people of our valley were in a crisis.

The Sewickley Bridge Steering Commiteee (Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge) shifted into high gear. The new acting chairman was John R. Simpson, a resident of Sewickley and a Coraopolis businessman. The bridge committee was enlarged, and the 30-member committee now met in weekly sessions at 7:30 a.m. Monday nights were reserved for the executive meetings, which were held in the Municipal Building in Moon Township.

The Sewickley Valley Board of Trade sponsored a dinner and meeting on March 10, 1977. The speaker for the meeting was J. Fred Graham, Chief County Bridge Engineer. The Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge posted signs in all businesses on the north and south sides of the river, and the meeting broke all records with a gathering of over 600 concerned citizens. Representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, PennDot officials, Pennsylvania legislators and officials from nearly twenty municipalities jammed St. James School Auditorium.

By the 15th of March, the American Bridge Company was making temporary repairs to the bridge. Governor Shapp had ordered the repairs and had given his promise for a new superstructure.

On March 23rd, the Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge officially became known as The Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge. As Post Gazette staff writer David Leherr describes it, "there's nothing fancy about the title. No acronyms that spell out neat words to dramatically portray its goal." The goal of the committee is:

"By the end of 1977, we want Federal, State and Local Binding Commitments for the design and construction or reconstruction of the Sewickley Bridge . . Furthermore, in the interest of safety, we must have a commitment to improve the existing roads in Coraopolis and Moon Township that involved the traffic pattern of the Sewickley Bridge."

Officers were elected by the committee, including chairman, John R. Simpson, vice-chairman Marvin M. Wedeen, secretary, Calvin X. Heinlen, and treasurer, James M. Yost.

On March 30th, the announcement was made by chairman Simpson that the Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge had been notified that bridge representatives would be permitted to offer testimony on April 6th in Harrisburg before the State Transportation Commission. N. Ferguson Ferree, Peter A. Michel and Legal Counsel Dennis Unkovic would represent the committee.

In Harrisburg, on April 6th, the Pennsylvania Transportation Commission, after hearing testimony by Peter Michel, voted to place the span on its priority list, recommending that it be rebuilt as soon as possible. The report included statistics from a study by Carnegie-Mellon University's Graduate School of Urban and Public Policy. The study assessed the annual economic loss caused by the bridge closing at $4,259,000 and ranked the bridge as one of the most important ones in Allegheny County.

The Sewickley Bridge re-opened on May 20, 1977 with a life expectancy of about 18 months.

The Committee needed funds to carry its message to Harrisburg and Washington, the message "that the communities must have a re-constructed (new) bridge and soon." Mr. James M. Yost was named general chairman of the fund drive with a goal of $25,000. Committee members with the help of concerned citizens and solicitors from the business communities of Sewickley, Coraopolis, Moon Township requested financial support from corporations, merchants, and professional groups.

The Sewickley Valley Board of Trade and Dardanell (Gateway) Publications provided the leadership in spotlighting the opening of the individual campaign drive of the Bridge Committee. From July 28th through the 30th, "Bridgers" were on the corner of Broad and Beaver Streets, Sewickley, meeting with the community and distributing flyers, bridge buttons and bumper stickers They were there for the town festival, "Sewickley Turns Inside-Out for the Sewickley Bridge." In Wolcott Park, a Punch and Judy puppet show told audiences the "Story of the Sewickley Bridge." Home baked bread, cold lemonade, hot dogs and balloons were for sale with total profits going to support the work of the Bridge Committee, an example of "Unity within Community."

During the summer months Bridge representatives were in contact with State legislators, officials of the Federal Highway Administration and PennDot. The Committee wished to insure that money would be allocated, plans made and construction begun on a new bridge with the least delay.

On August 30th, John R. Simpson, Chairman of the Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge, and Council Dennis Unkovic met with officials of the Federal Highway Administration and PennDot in Harrisburg. Bridge representatives were there to discuss the issue of the bridge roadway, which the Federal Highway Administrators insisted should be a 36-foot, curb-to-curb width, while PennDOT favored a 28-foot curb-to-curb. The Committee reported that State and Federal officials were receptive and interested in moving ahead on the re-construction of the Sewickley Bridge.

What happened before January 30, 1977 is history (about 83 years worth for our old friend the Sewickley Bridge).

What happened since January 30, 1977 is the history of the committee of concerned citizens.

What happens now is up to Pennsylvania legislators.

As all can see from the results-the new Sewickley Bridge-the legislators accepted and met the challenge.


1894 - November 24 - A "Call" for a public meeting.

- December 1 - First public meeting.

- December 8 - Second Meeting of bridge committee.

- December 29 - Third bridge meeting - river frozen - south shore representatives cancel.

1895 - January 3, 10, 17 - Meetings

- Spring - Bridge committee petitions (County Government)

- July 16 - County Commissioners meet with bridge committee and interested citizens.

- July 22 - County Commissioners meet with local officials from Coraopolis and Sewickley.

- Fall - County Commissioners deny request for new Sewickley-Coraopolis Bridge.

1897 - January 22 - Rochtester-Monaca bridge opens for traffic.

1906 - New petition circulated.

- November 12 - Petition presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Allegheny County.

- December 8 - (Commissioners) approve bridge project and County funding.

- Report of Commissioners confirmed by the Court.

- December 17 - Grand Jury approves project.

1907 - June 28 - Honorable William F. Taft, Secretary of War appoints Board of Government Engineers to examine plans and proposed site.

1908 - February 6 - Secretary Taft issues permit for construction of Sewickley Bridge.

- April 10 - County Commissioners file report . . . funds appropriated. With Court of Quarter Sessions and appropriated funds, construction of new Sewickley Bridge scheduled for 1909.

1909 - July 2 - Contracts for masonry (pier) issued Adam Laidlaw Company, $98,907.25; Fort Pitt Bridge Works for $372,400.00. Completion date set . . . November 30, 1910.

- July 21 - "A Jublilee Celebration" Construction begins on bridge.

1911 - May 15 - Last span of bridge in place.

- Summer months - Community committees Sewickley-Coraopolis prepare for opening of bridge.

- September 19 - The opening of the Sewickley Bridge.

1912 - September - Streetcaar (trolley) crosses bridge.

1913 - Pittsburgh Railways Company establishes regular service Pittsburgh-Sewickley.

1928 - Pennsylvania Railroad moves tracks to river bank.

1929 - Dashields Dam completed.

1932 - October - New approach to Sewickley Bridge opens.

1933 - Pittsburgh Railways - regular city car (orange) added to Sweickley route.

1936 - March - Flood. Sewickley Bridge withstands major flood.

- 25-year-old Sewickley Bridge repaired and painted.

1941 to 1945 - War Years (W.W.II)

1961 - Allegheny County turns over Sewickley Bridge to Commonwealth.

1968 - PennDOT hires Green Engineering Company to inspect Sewickley Bridge.

1969 - Green report reveals "some deterioration."

1970 - PennDOT requests funds for detailed report to determine replacement of bridge.

1972 - Stuart Painting Company hired to paint Sewickley Bridge.

1973 to 1974 - Funds allocated for detailed inspection and study of bridge.

1974 - Painters walked off job, as concrete sidewalk fails from bridge.

- PennDOT closes sidewalks.

- Three-ton limit posted on bridge by PennDOT.

1975 - December - Mayor William C. Gourley, Jr. requests meeting with PennDOT and community representatives.

1976 - January 23 - PennDOT Engineers meet with Mayor Gourley and local officials at Sewickley Borough Building.

1976 - February - Concerned citizens meet at Sewickley Academy to develop plan of action to secure repair or replacement of Sewickley Bridge.

- Spring - Steering Committee formed to save bridge.

- May - Luncheon meeting held at Edgeworth Club sponsored by Sewickley Valley Board of Trade and Airport Area Chamber of Commerce. Allegheny County Commissioner Robert M. Peirce, luncheon speaker.

-June 9-Public meeting held at Moon Township Municipal Building - PennDOT reports on Sewickley Bridge.

- September 3 - The new ($29 million) I-79 Bridge opens.

1977 - January 28 - I-79 Bridge cracks and is closed by PennDOT.

- January 30 - Sewickley Bridge closed by PennDOT.

- February - Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge Meeting -Coraopolis Municipal Building.

- February 18 - Bridge representatives attend meeting called by County Commissioners - Allegheny County Court House, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

- February - Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge Meeting - Sewickley Valley Hospital - 7:30 a.m. topic: Town Meeting.

- March - Dennis Unkovic engaged as Legal Counsel for Committee and Gloria Berry as Committee Coordinator.

- March 3 - Bridge Committee representatives meet with PennDOT at District 11 office - Greentree.

- March 10 - Town Meeting, St. James School Auditorium - Sewickley.

- March 23 - "Ad Hoc" dropped from name. Committee title is officially, The Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge.

- March 30- Permission granted to appear before Pennsylvania Transportation Commission in Harrisburg April 6.

- March 31 - Re-opening of 1-79 Bridge.

- April 6 - Pennsylvania Transportation Commission places Sewickley Bridge on priority list. (12 year plan.)

- April 7 - Ambridge - Aliquippa Bridge posts 10 ton limit.

- April 23 - Bridge Committee meeting with legislators - Sewickley Holiday Inn.

- April 26 - Sewickley Business Community meets with bridgers re: fund drive.

- May - Mayor Gourley announces - Pennsylvania Economy League Study.

- May 18 - Bridge Committee meets with business community of Coraopolis and Moon Township at Robert Morris College.

- May 20 - Sewickley Bridge re-opens.

- June 6 - Airport Area Chamber of Commerce directors give vote of confidence to Sewickley Bridge Committee (400 members).

- June 8 - Bridge Committee forwards resolutIon to communities. Letter dated June 15 from Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration David D. Sims, in which Committee learns preliminary engineering study by Richardson, Gordon and Associates to be completed by August 1.

- June 22 - Bridge Committee adopts resolutions calling for completion of design work by January 1, 1978.

- June 25 - Sewickley Bridge bumper stickers available.

- June 29 - Susan DiGiacomo begins study for Pennsylvania Economy League.

- July - PennDOT halts $500 million in bridges and highway projects, including the preliminary study of the Sewickley Bridge.

- July 15 - Committee sends letter to legislators and PennDOT re: halting of state projects.

- July 21 - PennDOT and Committee meet to review design study in Sewickley.

- July 28-30 - Sewickley Turns Inside-Out for the Sewickley Bridge promotion.

- August 30 - Bridge representatives meet Federal and State highway administrators in Harrisburg.

- October 7 - Sewickley Bridge Committee meets with PennDOT and Congressman Doug Walgren.

- October - State and Federal Officials agree on width of new span.

- October 19 - Pennsylvania Economy League Study presented.

- November 18 - John R. Simpson, Gloria Berry and Dennis Unkovic attend National Transportation Policy Study Commisslon, Pittsburgh, Pa. Testimony presented by Dennis Unkovic, legal counsel for the bridge committee

- December 5 - Bridgers meet with PennDOT Representatives

1978 - January 25 - Bridgers attend Beaver Valley Chamber of Commerce Meeting, Industry, Pa. Meet with James B. Wilson, Sect. of Transportation State of Pennsylvania, and PennDOT team. (Harrisburg Office and District 11)

- Feburary 14 - Valentine Campaign to Legislators ... Thousands of valentines hit legislators' desk.

- February 16 - Sponsors of Gubernatorial Forum meet with Bridgers to formulate plans.

- February 20 - Bridge Committee Reps. travel to Monessen to meet with James J. Manderino, Majority Leader, Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

- March - Six reports packaged and mailed to all Allegheny County Legislators. Included were the Carnegie-Mellon Study, Testimony presented to the State Transportation Commission, Pennsylvanis Economy Report, Reflections of the Sewickley Bridge (Historical), Testimony of Dennis Unkovic, Legal Counsel, presented to National Transportation Policy Study Commission and Community Resolutions.

- April 17 - Editorial Flyer mailed to all state legislators representing Allegheny County.

- April 25 - Gubernatorial candidates present views on bridge, highway and mass transit at public forum at Moon Area High School sponsored by the Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge, Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, Sewickley Valley Board of Trade and the Allegheny County Chapter of the League of Women Voters.

- May - Resolution in support of reconstruction of the Sewickley Bridge mailed by Committee to President Carter, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams and federal and state transportation officials.

- June 15 - The Bridge Committee was informed by Congressman Doug Walgren that the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has given approval for the demolition of the old bridge. This action was needed before federal money can be spent in a project that will result in the demolition of a structure of possible historic significance.

- June 16 - Representative George F. Pott, Jr. addresses Sewickley Valley Board of Trade and reports on legislative action needed for funding of the new Sewickley Bridge.

- June 21 - Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge notified that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams accompanied by Congressman Doug Walgren will inspect Sewickley Bridge and meet with Bridge Committee and public officials.

- July 14 - U.S. Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams, accompanied by Congressman Doug Walgren, examines crumbling Sewickley Bridge, and meets with Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge, Federal and state legislators and municipal officials in attendance.

- July 26 - State Senator Edward M. Early meets with Bridge Committee.

- August 14 - Representatives of Bridge Committee meet with Governor Milton Shapp in Harrisburg. Congressman Austin Murphy, Congressman Doug Walgren and Senator Edward Early in attendance. Governor Shapp promises to find funds to complete final design for new span.

- September 27 - Bridge Committee receives word that funds have been allocated for final design. Governor keeps promise.

- October-December - Bridge Committee keeps in contact with state and federal officials.

1979- January 11 - Dennis Unkovic and Gloria Berry meet with federal and state highway officials in Harrisburg and are informed that PennDOT had closed Sewickley Bridge. Berry and Unkovic call press conference at Capitol and alert communities of sudden closing.

- January 15 - Bridge representatives attend Sewickley Borough Council meeting and report.

- January - Sewickley Bridge... - subject ... on "Keystone Highlights" WDUQ Radio program. (Duquesne University) Participants include: state legislator, Fred Trello, state senator, Eugene Scanlon; Bridge Coordinator, Gloria Berry.

- February - American Bridge moves ahead on repairing bridge.

- March 2 - PennDOT reopens bridge ... second opening after Band-Aid repair.

- March 3. Channel 4 WTAE interviews John R. Simpson, chairman, and Gloria Berry, coordinator at span site.

- March 19 - Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the design engineering firm of Richardson Gordon Associates meet with Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge. The purpose of the meeting is to update the committee on the current status of design of the bridge, along with plans to hold a public meeting.

- April 6 - State legislator George F. Pott, Jr., meets with Bridge Committee ... updating comniiIi~e on action in Harrisburg.

- May 23 Airport Area Chamber of Commerce leads delegation to Harrisburg to meet with legislators and state officials Ernest A Baier, Assistant Director of the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce is accompanied by municipal officials, AACC delegates and Marvin M. Wedeen, Vice-Chairman of the Bridge Committee.

- May 23 - Bridge Coordinator attends meeting of The Association for Bridge Construction and Design. Program topic: "The Sewickley Bridge - Old and New."

- June - Bridge Committee releases sever page report supporting PennDOT's need for funding. Unless the legislators provide the mechanism to increase funding for roads and bridges there will be no construction of the new Sewickley Bridge. Letter campaign to state legislators. Committee distributes fact sheet to citizenry and urges letters to be sent to state legislators.

- June 20 - Gary Burnworth, Executive Director of Valley Ambulance and member of the Committee to Save the Sewickley Bridge announces at committee meeting the purchase of a new ambulance (with modular type van) in preparation for longer trips when bridge is closed for reconstruction.

- July - Budget still in limbo. Bridgers contact with state legislators...funding is still not available for reconstruction of new bridge.

- October 17 - Committee learns that design for new Sewickley Bridge is completed.

- October 26 - Bridge Committee representatives John R. Simpson, Charles Norman and Calvin X. Heinlen meet with new District 11 Chief, Dr. Roger E. Carrier, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Martin McDaniel, Sewickley Borough Manager reports on removal of Utility lines from Sewickley Bridge.

- November 14 - Committee prepares for public meeting. New bridge design to be unveiled to communities. The committee's production titled "Preview Night" is scheduled for Thursday, November 29th at 8:00 p.m. at Sewickley Academy, Rea Auditorium.

- November 29 - "Preview Night" and they all came: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, headed by Dr. Roger E. Carrier: Richardson, Gordon and Associates (Designers), U.S. Congressman Doug Walgren, State Senator Edward Early, State Rep. George Pott, State Representative Fred Trello, Municipal Officials, School District Representatives and over two hundred concerned citizens. The news was good . . . the design is completed and the money is available.

1980 - January 31 - PennDOT to open bids for new bridge.

- February 12 - The American Bridge Works of United States Steel Corporation, low bidder, signs contract for construction of new Sewickley Bridge . . . $16.4 million.

- May 14 - Final closing of Sewickley Bridge.

- July 9 - Center span of old bridge lowered into barge as community observes from shoreline.

1981 - October 21, 1981 - New Sewickley-Coraopolis Bridge opens at 10 a.m.

Sewickley-Coraopolis Bridge 1911-1981
Supplement to the Coraopolis Record and the Sewickley Herald
Wednesday, October 21, 1981, Page 2B

Created on ... December 05, 2000