(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — In the interest of public safety, the Petroleum Center Truss Bridge was closed due to advanced deterioration and structural concerns discovered during a recent inspection, according to a release.
The bridge carries Petroleum Center Road (Route 1004) over Oil Creek in Cornplanter Township, Venango County and is located within Oil Creek State Park near the intersection with Russell Corners Road, the park office, and the Egbert Farm Day Use area. The single-lane steel through truss bridge was built in 1884 and was rehabilitated in 1984.
It is posted with a weight limit of five tons, has a height restriction of 11 feet, and is rated in poor condition. The bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its engineering significance, which includes its distinct design and its standing as an example of work done by the Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio.
“Historical bridges come with unique challenges. Simply replacing this bridge with a new one is not an option. We are bound by state and federal regulations to coordinate the scopes and details of these projects with the State Historic Preservation Office, which takes more time than most simple bridge projects. Repairs and rehabilitation efforts must follow guidelines and preserve the historic nature of the structure,” said Brian McNulty, PennDOT District 1 executive. “These factors require time to evaluate and design solutions that meet today’s structural and historical standards.”
Due to its condition, the bridge is on a six-month inspection cycle. Prior to the latest inspection, funding had been allocated for design and construction costs related to the bridge.
Preliminary design work began this year. A construction contract is tentatively scheduled to be awarded in 2026. The bridge is used by approximately 75 vehicles a day, on average. A detour is posted using Route 8, Route 227, State Park Road, and Petroleum Center Road.
Temporary signs and message boards are in place along the detour route. Plans call for long-term signs to be installed later this fall.