The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 4, 2014

Riverside council: Urge officials to stop bridge closing

— RIVERSIDE — Borough council wants state representatives to prevent a PennDOT plan from shutting down the Danville-Riverside bridge for several days this spring.

PennDOT plans to close the bridge for two and a half to five days some time in late April or early May to replace the foundation underneath the railroad track that runs across Route 54. PennDOT has not settled on a final date for the project, said council president John Novak.

Voting in favor of the request for aid from state representatives were council members John Domanski, John LaMotte, Barb Kriner and Caressa Compton.

The motion to oppose PennDOT’s plan was first proposed by Domanski and resulted in heated debate among the council members.

“It’s not a good plan and they need to do better,” Domanski said, stating that it would cause Riverside traffic to be rerouted through Catawissa and Sunbury. He and the other members voting to oppose PennDOT’s plan agreed that this would cause serious problems for both commuters traveling to work in Danville and the transport of any emergency vehicles to and from Riverside. They wanted to see PennDOT allow temporary controlled traffic across the bridge instead of a complete shutdown.

Domanski would also like to see the railroad company liable for any extra costs, such as for traffic control or off-duty policemen.

Both Novak and council vice president Peter Fleming believe allowing limited traffic on the bridge during construction would only create a gridlock. “If you have a gridlock and an emergency vehicle … someone’s going to die in an ambulance,” Fleming said. Novak agreed, saying he didn’t think opening up the bridge and having congested traffic would be much more effective than having the road closed.

PennDOT originally considered rerouting traffic on D&H Avenue, right before the railroad crossing, but the mouth of the road was believed to be too narrow for two lanes of traffic, Novak said. The turn onto D&H Avenue is 90 degrees, making it too narrow for trucks to turn onto.

With the vote from the council to oppose PennDOT’s plan, Novak said he would start making calls on Tuesday to find alternatives to closing down the bridge. Novak said one possibility would be to open the bridge during off-hours, but he wasn’t sure if PennDOT would accept that option.

Domanski and LaMotte provided the Sunbury office number for Rep. Lynda Culver, 570-286-5885, and urged local residents to contact her and other elected officials and voice their displeasure with PennDOT’s plan.

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