Important bridge in Westmoreland County community to undergo major rehabilitation project

WEST NEWTON, Pa. — A historic bridge in Westmoreland County deemed in poor condition nearly two years ago will soon undergo some major rehabilitation work by PennDOT.

The West Newton Bridge connects two halves of the borough across the Youghiogheny River, and is heavily traveled. PennDOT says 6,500 cars travel the bridge daily, as do bikers and pedestrians.

“We’re a community that’s divided by the river, and without the bridge, it’s a very long circuit to get from one side of town to the other,” said Barry Harris, who volunteers at the local library.

In 2022, the state said the West Newton bridge was in poor condition with a deteriorating superstructure.

Now, the bridge rehab is part of a list of projects that could get the green light thanks to $300 million Westmoreland County is getting in combined federal and state dollars for road and bridge improvement.

“It’s going to be a complete deck replacement, then we’re going to do some work on the trusses, some sidewalk work, and then some work to the substructure,” said Angela Swallop Baker, PennDOT District 12 Transportation Planning Manager.

The last time work was done on the bridge, nearly 14 years ago, PennDOT closed the bridge and had a posted detour.

This time, they plan to build a temporary bridge next to the permanent one, because otherwise the detour would be long.

“We don’t want to detour anybody or disrupt any more lives,” Swallop Baker said.

Harris is glad.

“It’s got to be better than the previous arrangement,” he said.

But while many who spoke to Channel 11 are happy something’s being done for safety, some think they should just build a new bridge.

“I know they want to think it’s a thing from the past, but sometimes you just need to go for new,” said Larry Evans. “They might rehab it now and then 10 years from now they have to do it again, you’re gonna throw money away.”

Bids are expected to go out at the end of next year, with work starting on the nearly $17 million project sometime in early 2026.

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