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Planned Bridge Closing Worries Drivers

RIVERSIDE — People in two counties are concerned about plans to close the Danville-Riverside Bridge over the Susquehanna River so a railroad crossing can be fixed. They’re so worried about this, that more than 700 people have signed a petition.

According to PennDOT, the railway crossing on Route 54 in Riverside needs to be replaced. In order to do that, the Danville-Riverside bridge must close for at least three days in either April or May. PennDOT says around 12,000 vehicles cross that bridge everyday and many people say the closure will be a huge inconvenience.

Vicki Schneider owns bird florist in Riverside, and says spring is her busiest time of the year. Over Mother’s Day weekend, her employees cross the Danville-Riverside bridge more than 100 times.

“Geisinger is a big draw for us and a lot of people receive flowers from us,” Schneider said.

But once construction starts at the railway crossing on Route 54, Schneider says her business could take a big hit. According to PennDOT, once construction on the railway starts in this spring, the Danville-Riverside bridge will close for at least three days. The closest bridges are miles upriver in Catawissa or miles downriver in Sunbury. Only emergency vehicles and school buses would be able to cross the bridge.

“It will greatly affect my business because we travel across that bridge everyday several times for sure,” Schneider said.

“With the extra traffic, it could take an extra hour or more just to get across the bridge to Danville,” John Novak said.

John Novak is president of Riverside borough council. He says council members collected a petition with 700 signatures of people who oppose the closure of the bridge. He and other local and state officials plan to meet with PennDOT Monday to come up with an alternative solution to closing the bridge.

Riverside borough officials recently held an informal study on this bridge just to show how busy it is. They found that in about two hours, around 2,000 vehicles cross the bridge.

And according to PennDOT, an average of 12,000 vehicles cross the bridge everyday. Many commute to Geisinger Medical Center.

“I do come back and forth. We have family in riverside. I have friends at Merck, so we do a lot of business back and forth there,” Carol Reinaker said.

Besides Monday’s meeting with officials, a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8 to discuss the closure of the Danville-Riverside Bridge. That meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at St.┬áPeter’s Fellowship Hall in Riverside.



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