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West Brady Street reconnected thanks to bridge opening

Devin Byers, left, 37, of Sarver, and Shawn Coddington, 52, of Butler, install a fence Wednesday, Sept. 21, along the newly reopened West Brady Street bridge in Butler, The men, who work for Penn Fencing, fit fence pieces around pipes and the bridge sides. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Eugene Ludwik and Kayla Lortie were standing outside their home on West Brady Street when a minivan approached from down the street, driven by a particularly excited person.

“The bridge is open, the bridge is open,” the driver cheered.

The bridge on West Brady Street opened as of Wednesday morning, after being closed since January for crews to replace the old 20 foot long structure with a concrete block bridge and a larger culvert for water to flow through.

While the bridge’s reopening will provide a shorter route for people crossing from Main Street to Mercer Street or vice-versa, some concerns have returned to the residents living on the cusp of the bridge.

“People speed here all the time,” said Lortie who has lived on the street for about 13 years. “A lot of kids are walking around here and people drive by without looking.”

According to John Evans, Butler’s building code official, the Sullivan Run Control Project cost $2.3 million in total, and will increase space for the stream water to run through to make flooding much less likely. The replacement of the West Brady Street bridge is only one part of the project, and the nearby bridge on West Penn Street is also being replaced for the same purpose.

The West Brady Street bridge initially had an estimated project time of about eight to 12 weeks, but Evans said the city could not open it before fencing was installed. Penn Fencing finished putting up fencing Wednesday.

“The Brady Street bridge, it was a restriction; by putting the culvert in, it will allow more water to flow through,” Evans said in April.

Thomas Construction of Grove City is the contractor for both of the bridge projects, and has been running two separate crews, one on each bridge, to get them completed.

Eugene Ludwik, 36, Butler, watches the finishing fence work being applied to the West Brady Street bridge Wednesday, Sept. 21, from his front yard in Butler. Ludwik said he is concerned that traffic will speed through his neighborhood on the newly reopened bridge. His son, Gunner, 11 months, plays at the first step with their cat, Midnight. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Ludwik, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 13 years, said flooding has been a problem on the street since he moved in. He said the bridge’s extended closure will have been worthwhile it if the street floods less frequently.

“It needs to fix the problem,” Ludwik said. “It almost flooded last month. I hope it does something.”

Evans said the completion of both west side bridges could mean the city will invest in more measures to mitigate flooding in the city.

“This will complete phase two, and I'm not sure if there is going to be a phase three or phase four,” Evans said. “We’re wanting to get these done before we think about doing another phase.”

Cory Benoit, who has lived on the street for about three years, and has also been frustrated by the flooding that occurs during periods of heavy rainfall. While he also has some concerns about speeding drivers, Benoit is optimistic about the bridge’s flood mitigation.

“I’m happy it’s done; it took too long,” he said. “I hope it stops the flooding.”

Installing fence along the newly reopened West Brady Street bridge in Butler, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, are Devin Byers, left, 37, Sarver, and Shawn Coddington, 52, Butler. The men, who work for Penn Fencing, fit fence pieces around pipes and the bridge sides. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle
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