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North Neighborhoods
Construction begins to replace historic Cranberry span

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

By Ken McCarthy

It's only a bridge by strictest definition -- an agile youngster could probably leap across it -- but the span on Franklin Road in Cranberry may be missed by some just the same.

Crews last week began erecting a bridge that will replace the bridge across Wolf Run by summer's end.

Jim Struzzi, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation's District 10, said Monday that the two-lane, precast concrete bridge being built next to the old one should be done sometime in August.

Struzzi said the project will cost about $230,000. The work is being done by PennDOT's Butler County maintenance crew.

He said construction will not cause any traffic headaches for motorists because the old bridge will remain open until the new one is finished.

Struzzi said he wasn't sure what would happen to the carved marble dedication plaque embedded in one of the bridge's walls which informs drivers brave enough to stop and read it that the bridge was built in 1914.

"A lot of times, we give things like that to historical societies or community groups that are interested," Struzzi said. "Or it may be put back on the new bridge."

Steve Krochta, PennDOT Butler County maintenance manager, said the current bridge is the oldest in Butler County.

Members of the Butler County Historical Society could not confirm whether that was true, however. No record of the bridge could be found.

One place the bridge can be found, however, is in the opening scenes of George Romero's cult classic movie "Night of the Living Dead."

It was across that bridge in the 1968 movie that the character Johnny drove with his sister Barbara to pay their respects to their mother in the nearby Evans City Cemetery -- a trip that landed them amid a host of zombies.

But even those who aren't fans of the movie may be fans of the bridge.

Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree reiterated this week his concern that the new, wider bridge may lead to speeding along Franklin Road.

Andree said the little one-lane bridge forces drivers to stop and take turns using it, keeping speeding in check.

"It's the best traffic-calming device you'll ever find," Andree said.

Unless flesh-eating zombies are nipping at your heels.

Ken McCarthy is a freelance writer.

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