Dale Borough bridge

Dale Borough staff posted signs warning the public to stay clear of a Solomon Run foot bridge, shown Wednesday, June 2, 2019, saying the span is structurally unsound.

Dale Borough officials have closed a foot bridge in the middle of the community, saying the crumbling concrete span is no longer structurally sound.

The decision was made Tuesday after the borough’s EADS Group engineers finished an inspection on the pedestrian bridge – part of which broke into Solomon Run over the past few weeks, Borough Council President Lisa Howard said.

A portion of the underside of the concrete bridge gave way, and borough officials don’t want to take any risks with the more than 40-year-old walkway, she said.

The narrow crossing, which sits between Rear Messenger and David streets, was built in the early 1980s in the aftermath of the 1977 Flood, which ravaged the borough.

Relentless rain caused Solomon Run to overflow its banks on July 20, 1977, ripping apart homes, washing away others and claiming 10 lives in Dale.

In the years that followed, it spurred a multi-phase bridge and Solomon Run channel improvement project along the stream’s path through the city and borough.

Tribune-Democrat archive stories show that the borough section carried an estimated price tag of $700,000 in 1981 (the equivalent of more than $3 million today).

Thanks to state and federal support, Dale’s share was estimated at just $228,000 at the time, but the borough was expected to maintain the channels annually once they were finished, Dale Borough’s then-project engineer, Hinks and Locher, testified to a Cambria County court judge as part of a January 1981 tax plea by borough officials.

Due to delays obtaining easements and other issues, fencing and other upgrades continued on Solomon Run in Dale through the 1980s.

Howard said Tuesday that borough officials are still trying to determine who is responsible for that maintenance today, and that includes the pedestrian bridge. 

Howard said borough officials just started looking into the matter this week.

“Regardless of who is supposed to maintain it ... (the bridge) is going to be closed indefinitely at this point,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.