Luzerne County addressing safety issues on two county-owned bridges

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
O’Neill -
The Water Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, which connects Pittston and West Pittston, is shown in this file photo from 2017. The county is planning lighting repairs for the span. - Times Leader file photo

Luzerne County is addressing concerns on two county-owned bridges that have been the subject of citizen complaints.

The first is lighting that has stopped working on the Water Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River linking Pittston and West Pittston.

The second project involves sidewalk and railing repairs on the Oxford Street Bridge in Hanover Township.

A citizen has complained at recent county council meetings about the darkness from non-operational lighting on the Water Street Bridge.

County Operational Services Division Head Edmund O’Neill said Friday he and PPL Corp. representatives have been working on a solution for months. The utility owns the lighting.

According to his agenda submission up for discussion at Tuesday’s council work session:

The 1,500-foot steel bridge has nine overhead light fixtures, including one on each approaching end, and three fixtures are currently out.

While attempting to replace the fixtures not functioning, PPL uncovered a problem with one of two circuits operating the lights. The company must shut down the bridge for one or two days to fix the circuit problem.

PPL also wants to convert the bridge lamps to more cost-efficient LED lighting during the circuit repair, which is estimated to save the county $17.59 per month.

If council approves a resolution to proceed, the LED work can be performed simultaneously to avoid the need for a subsequent bridge closure.

PPL would complete the work at no cost to the county, aside from its ongoing utility expenses, O’Neill said.

Oxford Street

Several citizens complained about the deteriorating condition of the Oxford Street Bridge last July, saying the 60-foot span over Solomon Creek has been taking more of a beating from increased traffic since the nearby Division Street Bridge was demolished in 2014 after partially collapsing into the creek.

Rehabilitation of the Oxford Street span, which was built in 1950, is planned later this year, but the county is now seeking bids for bridge railing and sidewalk repairs that can’t be delayed, county engineer Lawrence Plesh said Friday.

A state inspection flagged the bridge’s railing and sidewalk as a “priority zero” safety hazard that must be promptly addressed, according to Plesh.

The sidewalk was deemed a trip hazard in the inspection due to settling on both sides, and steel railing is loose, Plesh said. Concrete around the railings will be patched and primed for the installation of new railing, he said.

This work must be handled separately because the bridge overhaul requires a state environmental permit that will take time to secure because work in the creek is involved.

The railing/sidewalk project will be funded with a state allocation that had been set aside for minor emergency repairs, Plesh said. He declined to estimate the cost, saying he is awaiting bids due May 30.

Division span is priority

Meanwhile, construction of a new Division Street Bridge over Solomon Creek in Hanover Township and Wilkes-Barre, which has been estimated at $2 million, remains a high priority, county Manager C. David Pedri has said.

The Division Street project may be largely covered by a portion of the $15 million in county community development funds that will be earmarked for infrastructure, primarily in low- and moderate-income areas, Pedri has said. The money comes from a business development loan fund that is no longer in high demand.

Pedri has said the administration is updating a roster of roads and bridges that will be addressed in coming years.

A new $5 county vehicle registration fee on 281,000 vehicles, which is set to take effect in September, will generate an estimated $1.4 million to repair the county’s 302 bridges and approximately 125.3 miles of roads. The state will match up to $2 million to fix bridges in each county with a $5 fee, but only once, a PennDOT official has said.

Council members added a provision automatically ending the fee if the state match is not continued for a second year.

O’Neill
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Ed-O-Neil.jpgO’Neill

The Water Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, which connects Pittston and West Pittston, is shown in this file photo from 2017. The county is planning lighting repairs for the span.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Bridges3.jpgThe Water Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, which connects Pittston and West Pittston, is shown in this file photo from 2017. The county is planning lighting repairs for the span. Times Leader file photo

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.