Federal Funds May Be Used To Demolish Privately Owned Bridge

EXETER — A crumbling piece of history in Luzerne County will come down at the expense of taxpayers.

A railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County is falling apart and could give way without warning.

The owner of the bridge was in court for a criminal trial last month. Officials say Leo Glodzik can’t pay for demolition on his own, so county officials are stepping in and will likely use federal disaster dollars.

After being convicted of theft last month for stealing cash from a car he towed for the city of Wilkes-Barre, Leo Glodzik ran from our cameras.

Now, state officials say taxpayers will likely foot the bill to demolish a crumbling railroad bridge in Exeter which Glodzik bought for a few hundred dollars with plans to scrap the metal.

“Our major concern is that the next big flood that would come down the river, that it would take out those two piers and portions of the truss structure would collapse into the river,” said flood protection authority official Chris Bellman.

The Department of Environmental Protection says it issued Glodzik a notice of violation in April, telling him that he needed to repair his bridge or have it taken now.

But now, the DEP says taxpayers will likely pay for the project.

“I think it’s outrageous. I don’t think they should pay it, really. Why pay for a $500 bridge?” asked Donald Vanhorn of Wilkes-Barre.

At the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, Chris Bellman says Glodzik has agreed to give county officials permission to go on his property and demolish his bridge.

Bellman says Luzerne County will likely use a $615,000 federal grant for the project; money set aside for recovery projects after widespread flooding 2011.

“Unfortunately, it’s never been one like this where you have a structure that’s in pretty severe deteriorated condition and we have to step in and remove it as soon as possible.”

County and state officials say this is not a done deal but if plans move forward, work to demolish the bridge could start in the fall.

We tried to get Leo Glodzik’s side of the story, but he has not called us back.

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