NEW COLUMBUS — Neighbors in a Luzerne County community have been fired up, facing detours many miles long. PennDOT recently mailed letters informing them that two regularly used bridges in their community will be knocked down in 2014.
The bridge crossed over Pine Creek in New Columbus for almost 100 years.
“It’s kind of the community meet and greet place, so we spend a lot of time down here. We use the bridge almost daily,” said Pearson, of New Columbus.
Allen Chapin, the mayor o fNew Columbus, also used the bridge to get from one of his properties to the other.
“The only way we can get there of course is walk now or go about 7 miles around,” said Chapin.
The bridge on Pine Creek Road had been closed for more than a year. Now PennDOT said they will be getting rid of the bridge and another on Valley View Road in New Columbus for good.
“We were a little shocked too that we didn’t get any notice. It was just a decision that was made. So no chance to fight it or have a comment about it,” said Pearson.
PennDOT officials said the county decided to close the Pine Creek Bridge after a study showed only 25 cars used it each day.
PennDOT told the borough it would cost a million and a quarter dollars to repair this bridge, and another million to repair the bridge on Valley View road. But neighbors said there are other cost-effective options that would keep these bridges intact.
“If they would at least put a walking bridge across, there’s a lot of people. I walk it. I ride my bicycle,” said Mayor Chapin.
Neighbors said without these bridges, there’s only one way in and out of the neighborhoods, which could also be a problem if an ambulance needs to get through.
“There’s no way for our folks that have property on the other side of the bridge to get there now unless they go 6.5, 7 miles out of their way. That is not an acceptable detour,” said Pearson.
Penndot said in addition to tearing down the bridges, crews will also have to construct turnarounds since these are narrow roads.
No estimates on how much the state-funded project would cost.
PennDOT plans to start work in 2014.