SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP — A landmark bridge that carries the Pennsylvania Turnpike over Routes 6 and 11 in Lackawanna County is under construction.
Since the bridge is well over 100-feet high, crews are taking extra precautions to make sure drivers down below are also protected.
Workers at Crown Beverage on Northern Boulevard in South Abington Township have been joined by new neighbors this week. They’re just a few stories higher.
“You can hear, when you’re in the parking lot, you can hear them yelling to the people on top and on the bottom. They come in and buy beer once in a while, so it’s good for business,” said Chris Mrycalo, who works at Crown Beverage.
The workers are high above the street underneath the John E. Fitzgerald Memorial Bridge that carries the Turnpike over Northern Boulevard. From 163 feet up, they’re hard to see, but you can hear the buzz from the wires they’re stringing underneath and the occasional yell to another crew.
“I drove under there yesterday thinking, ‘I hope they don’t drop anything,’” added Patricia Wadlington, who works at Summit Cleaners on Northern Boulevard.
Wadlington is worried her customers may get caught in traffic this week since crews are shutting down the road for about 15 minutes at a time while workers are stringing the wires.
They will be used when workers start replacing parts of the bridge from underneath.
On the bridge, traffic is down to one lane in both directions. The work this week is just the beginning of what will be a long project for the Turnpike Commission as it replaces the concrete on the bridge and the steel underneath.
People in South Abington Township said the traffic will be a hassle. But, at least they have a show.
“Better them up there than me. I’m not a bit afraid of heights if I have one foot on the ground,” said Ken Vanderburg of Factoryville.
Vanderburg planned to take the back way home. But, watching the workers on the bridge brought back memories of the late 1950s.
“I walked across that bridge before it was completed…I was too young to worry about it,” Vanderburg added.
Officials from the Turnpike Commission said they will be stringing wires for the rest of the week. So, drivers can expect traffic down on the ground to be stopped at times.