SCRANTON — Some help is on the way for people who live in a north Scranton neighborhood who say they are cut off from the main streets.
On Tuesday, city and state officials announced that next week work will start to rebuild a bridge that has been closed for two years.
Barriers went up on Rockwell Avenue in Scranton after flooding in 2012. Neighbors say it’s made their daily trips longer.
“You have to go all the way around, and all the way up just to get to here,” said Dee Crea of Scranton.
“We have to go six blocks out of our way just to get to Market Street or Main Street,” said Gerard Pugh of Scranton.
The barriers also can keep police, paramedics, and firefighters from taking the quickest route to homes on Rockwell Avenue.
In November of 2013, a neighborhood homeowner died after being burned in a fire that was deliberately set.
There’s no evidence that a shorter response time would have saved the victim’s life, but people here see the barriers blocking the bridge, as barriers to help.
“How long does it take get around for an ambulance, or a fire truck? People could be dead by the time they get around,” Crea said.
State and local officials announced that work to replace the bridge is set to start next week and end in October of 2015.
“It’s a very important connection between this side of Scranton and that side,” said PennDOT spokesperson James May.
Repairs are tricky, because even though the bridge is closed to traffic, it houses water and gas lines that provide service to the neighborhood.
PennDOT says it will buffer the bridge’s collapsing wall during the reconstruction and keep disruptions of gas, water, and electricity to a minimum during the rebuild of a bridge that was first found structurally deficient in 1996.
“This has been a long time coming for the residents of north Scranton. They’ve suffered with this for years and years and years,” said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.
“We don’t need anything fancy, just give us a bridge!” Crea added.
The new Rockwell Avenue bridge will cost an estimated $1.3 million.
People on the other side of the barriers say it’s worth the peace of mind.