The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 19, 2014

Everyone agrees: Bridge closure a necessary inconvenience

By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item

— RIVERSIDE — While borough residents and businesses agree that repairs to the Route 54 railroad crossing should happen, few are excited about the partial closure of the Danville-Riverside bridge.

Only one-way traffic will be allowed on the span starting Friday night, with plans to fully reopen it at 6 p.m. Monday. Traffic will be permitted to go from Riverside to Danville, but motorists looking to reach Riverside will need to take a detour through neighboring towns.

“Half of my lunch business comes from Danville and they can’t get here,” said Joanne Haladay, owner of the Muffin Man Eatery, which sits just beyond Riverside’s half of the bridge. Haladay will close her store on Saturday and Monday, two days it usually is open, because she expects so few customers to reach her. She extended her business hours to 7 p.m., from 2 p.m., on Wednesday and Thursday to compensate.

“It’s definitely a loss, but I also figured it would be just about as big a loss having help here and no one being able to come in,” she said.

Haladay lives in Valley Township and won’t be able to reach her eatery without taking the extra half-hour or so drive to go around the closed bridge.

Even so, she understands that repairs have to happen.

“I’d rather see them get it done and get it over with. … I just hope that when the bridge opens, my customers come back over,” she said.

“It’s definitely an inconvenience,” said Riverside resident Nancy Karchner, taking a lunch break in the Muffin Man with her friend, Donna Starr. Karchner and her sister, a Danville resident, made plans months ago to travel to New York City this weekend, but the bus company called to say they would not stop near them.

“They don’t want to come anywhere near Danville or Riverside,” Karchner said. Instead, they were told to meet the bus in Bloomsburg. Karchner will stay at her sister’s Saturday night after they return, with her husband picking her up Sunday and driving them home via the detour.

Karchner also has a family friend in Rush Township who had her son’s birthday party planned for Friday and a picnic on Saturday. Guests for both events will now need to deal with the detour.

Starr, who lives in Valley Township, just plans to avoid the bridge, which will cut her off from family and friends in Riverside.

“We will not be getting together at all,” she said.

Rashelle Koser, of Danville, has a mother who lives in Riverside, and she has been making plans for the bridge closure. She has two cars, Koser said, and plans to leave one in Riverside and park the other near a friend’s house in Danville. Since the bridge is still open to foot traffic, Koser’s mother can just walk across whenever she needs to travel around the Danville half of the bridge.

Marcie Grubb, of Rush Township, said she goes to Danville “almost every day.” Since she’s retired, she isn’t too concerned about the closure.

“That crossing needs to be fixed,” she said, because it is bumpy.

Two local stores, the English Garden and Shade Mountain Winery, are teaming up to make the most of the closure with a “Wine, Walk and Shop” event. The two businesses are across Route 54 from each other, and each will have sales on Saturday to bring out the community.

At Shade Mountain, all wine will be 5 percent off, and that discount will be cumulative with other savings for buying wine in bulk.

Discounts at the English Garden will include half off all Lori Bonn jewelry and some Vera Bradley products.

“We hope people will come out, enjoy the day and partake in the day’s events,” said Jenny Zimmerman, whose family owns Shade Mountain Winery. The English Garden will grill hot dogs in the parking lot, and Shade Mountain will have a wine tasting. Giveaways and door prizes also will be offered.

“Saturdays are typically very busy days,” Zimmerman said. “Having the bridge closed will definitely impact Saturday sales, but we’re trying to do what we can to drum up interest.”

The English Garden will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shade Mountain will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.