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Fallen Wall Leads To Traffic Restrictions

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ELMHURST TOWNSHIP -- After a supporting wall for a bridge in Lackawanna County fell out beneath it, PennDOT now says the bridge will take months to fix and traffic will be down to one lane on Route 435.

A supporting wall that helps hold up a bridge along Route 435 in Elmhurst Township collapsed Monday afternoon.

PennDOT now says the potential danger to drivers is worse than they originally thought. Work started Tuesday to take the bridge down to one lane. Work to fix the fallen wall will take months.

Al Patel is in the middle of a big renovation, almost ready to reopen the revamped Elmhurst Twist and Shake at the Gulf Station on Route 435. This construction project is now right in front of another.

"I'm almost ready to open on April 15. It's all ready to go, but now this happened and I don't know what's going to happen," Patel said.

Patel didn't know what was happening Monday when he heard a rumble out on the Route 435 bridge. A supporting wall fell into the creek below. PennDOT officials say the bridge is still in good shape. But without the extra support, a two-lane bridge is not safe for drivers.

"When that fell to the ground, now all of that dirt is exposed. Water and rain and erosion will eat away at that dirt and it would end up eroding underneath the road. That's why we can't leave that far right lane open," explained PennDOT official James May.

Before the end of the week, crews will put two signals at each end of the bridge to help control traffic. But PennDOT is still asking drivers to use caution when driving through this area because of what's on either end of this bridge.

The Elmhurst Roaring Brook Volunteer Fire Department has two stations, one of the Moscow side of the Route 435 bridge, one on the side closest to Interstate 84.

Fire officials say even if you have the green light on the bridge, there could be an emergency vehicle coming in your direction.

"We do have a tanker and brush truck on one side, and our rescue is on the other side of the area. So, if there were an incident where for some reason we couldn't get from one side to the other, we would call another neighboring company to assist us," said Elmhurst Roaring Brook fire official Wayne Smith.

PennDOT officials told us that the new traffic signal and the new one-lane traffic pattern could be in place out on Route 435 as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

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