Some Latrobe first responders concerned bridge work could impact emergency response time

LATROBE, Pa. — Four bridges in Latrobe are expected to see rehabilitation work completed on them in 2026, but some first responders are voicing concerns ahead of time when it comes to a potential delay in response times in some areas as that work is being done.

“It’s gonna make the routes for response times a little more out of the way for us,” said Latrobe Fire Chief John Brasile. “It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, and it’s going to be a little more time-consuming.”

Despite those challenges, he says work on these bridges is needed.

“Taking care of them now, it prevents a bigger problem down the road,” Brasile said.

Officials from PennDOT agree.

“I think our infrastructure in this area is important to us because we’re all using it, you know?” said Cristin Covert, Local Project Manager with PennDOT.

All four bridges – the New Steele Bridge, Craigs Mill Bridge, Sanderson Bridge, and Darlington Bridge are listed in fair condition, but, they will all see preservation work. The first three will get new expansion joints and see some deck repairs.

The Darlington Bridge will get a whole new deck.

Each bridge will be done one at a time.

“Joints are leaking, water gets down to the steel, beginning to rust,” said Matthew Burns of Gibson-Thomas Engineering. “The rust has just been surface-level right now. There hasn’t been any corrosion or surface loss.”

That’s something they want to prevent.

This project is being funded by federal dollars, with the county teaming up with PennDOT to complete the project.

Vaughn Neill, The Westmoreland County Engineer, said he’s optimistic the bridge closures won’t create too much of an issue for first responders, even if they have to respond to the Loyalhanna Continuing Care Center.

That is a senior care facility on the Derry Township side of the New Steele Bridge.

“The county had actually resurfaced that deck in 2014 and had a 60-day closure at that time,” Neill said. “Looking at the file, I didn’t find any major objections.”

Brasile is glad they have two years before work starts.

“The fire department in any municipality is resilient, and we adapt to change,” he said.

Work is expected to start in spring 2026, and will likely take about a year to complete.

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