Bridge Closure Means Detour

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MEHOOPANY -- PennDOT is closing a busy bridge in Wyoming County on Monday.  It will be shut down through next summer.

People who use it every day will now be dealing with a six-and-a-half mile detour and some of them tell us that won't be easy.

Work has been underway building a new bridge over Mehoopany Creek in Mehoopany  but now the project to construct this new bridge is going to impact traffic that uses the one right nearby it is replacing.

The old bridge closes on Monday.  The rusting span is coming down.

"I've been living here 25 years. It's been looking the same way since I moved here. No one's picked up a paint brush to this thing in 25 years," said Bill Forster of Mehoopany.

But with this bridge closing Monday and the new bridge not opening until  next July, that means nine months with no way to cross the creek here.  Drivers will have to use a six-and-a-half mile detour.  That includes many employees going to the big employer in the area, Proctor and Gamble.

Edith Wilson lives near the bridge, on the opposite side of Mehoopany itself.

"I have an appointment on Monday when they're closing it.  I have to go all the way around."

Lauren Nothoff lives on the other side of the bridge. She also uses it a lot.

"It's just going to take longer to get around.  Usually I take this route to Tunkhannock because it's quicker to go all the way around on (Route) 87 and such."

People familiar with the detour are a little concerned about one stretch, what they call one of the steepest hills in the area.  They say this isn't going to be easy going up and down in the winter.

"You get ice, you're not getting up it," said Keith Dixon of Mehoopany Township.

Some drivers are worried about all the trucks and the school buses that will have to go through here.

"What I'm worried about is the health care. If someone has an emergency, a life or death situation and the ambulance or fire company is going to have to go around, and those few minutes might make a difference," Wilson said.

PennDOT says the old bridge has to be closed now to allow for excavating the stream and building a retaining wall to go along with the new bridge being built.

It's expected to open in July of 2014.