TAYLOR — A heavily traveled bridge in Lackawanna County is back open to traffic.
The bridge in Taylor is a main artery between the borough and Scranton and has been closed for more than two years.
Hundreds of cars and tractor-trailers used the bridge that leads in and out of Taylor so, it’s been inconvenient for drivers over the last two years.
Traffic was diverted down an access road all that time. Business owners on this side of the bridge say it was an inconvenience for them, too, since the detour diverted customers away.
Lackawanna County commissioners started talking about replacing the bridge back in 1998 so most of the commissioners who’ve served since then were there to cut the ribbon on the new Taylor Main Street bridge.
Officials closed the bridge in 2011 and work began earlier this year to replace the main artery between Taylor and Scranton.
“This is not only important for Taylor, it’s important for Scranton as well, because it connect the two communities. And for all the businesses along here it just means an easier connection,” said Commissioner Jim Wansacz, (D) Lackawanna County.
The ceremony was a welcome sight for Clem Rinaldi, who runs Rinaldi Auto Sales right next to the bridge. He says the traffic has hurt his business.
“When the access road was open and cars were flowing, it wasn’t too bad. It was during the construction the last seven months when they had the traffic stopped doing the roadwork, that was a crusher.”
For the past two years, drivers have been diverted down an access road that’s now blocked off but PennDOT officials say it will stay.
“The plan is to leave it in right now and begin working with people from the borough of Taylor and the county to come up with a good solution as to what we can do next with that,” said PennDOT spokesman James May.
The bridge is right next to the main train hub in Lackawanna County so, when they were building the new bridge, PennDOT crews also had to consider train traffic. They built the bridge higher so a double-decker car can fit underneath.
The old bridge couldn’t accommodate such trains and when it was closed in 2011, it was deteriorating. It was built back in the 1930s by Tony Depaola’s grandfather.
“You got to look toward the future. You’ve got to become competitive. We’re going against the whole world and things got to change so you got to keep up with it.”
Lackawanna County commissioners gave the Depaola family the plaques that were placed in the old bridge. Today, they dedicated new ones placed in the center of the new Taylor Main Street bridge.