Bells Mills Bridge closed through September

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The only covered bridge in Westmoreland County is getting a makeover.

The Bells Mills Bridge, which spans Sewickley Creek between Sewickley and South Huntingdon townships, will be closed for repairs through the end of September, according to Westmoreland County engineer Henry Fitz.

Workers are replacing the wooden-shingle roof with a metal roof, cleaning the bridge and giving it a new coat of fire-resistant red paint, Mr. Fitz said. The bridge, built in 1850, was damaged in a 2009 fire, and Mr. Fitz said the fire-resistant paint is a standard upgrade for wooden bridges.

Mr. Fitz said the 2009 fire wasn't the first at the bridge, and he said that because the bridge isn't close to many county facilities, residents who live near the bridge act as "watchdogs" and notify him of any loose boards or other problems with it.

The last repairs to the bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, were done in 1987, when workers lifted it off its abutments with a crane, set it on the ground, and did timber replacements before replacing the span, he said. They also replaced the siding and roof.

"That was a major project," Mr. Fitz said.

The Bells Mills Bridge will be closed until the end of September, he said, and a six-mile detour is posted around it.

The $157,000 project is being funded through Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grants and money from the county liquid fuels tax fund, Mr. Fitz said.

Transportation - neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Annie Siebert: or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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