By: Emma Glezen/Content Editor
Each day hundreds of people, including Blue Ridge students, must take a 20-25 minute detour because of bridge work–that just isn’t happening.
Over Blue Ridge’s Christmas break, the old iron bridge on Old Route 11, closer to Hallstead, was closed.
At first, no one knew why and no one could find out why.
According to the Great Bend Township the bridge was closed, by the state and PennDOT, due to an inspection in December that determined the bridge’s under-structure was deteriorating. Soon after the bridge was closed, the signs were moved and many people continued to drive through around the signs because it is such an inconvenience. Due to the closing though, it causes people to have to drive around the long way. According to Kyra Powell her and her family, “Have to drive double the distance to just get to Hallstead which is also much longer of a drive.”
News and information about the bridge has been traveling through the town very quickly. It is said that the state of Pennsylvania and the Railroad company are in conflict over who has the responsibility of repairing the bridge and the road that goes over it. Due to the fact that it is a state road going over a railroad bridge, neither one knows who should be paying for the repairs or supplying what is needed. While we can not verify this information, we can verify that the project is not currently listed as ongoing construction through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s online construction site.
Although the real conflict regarding the bridge, according to the Great Bend Township, is that “when a railroad is sold, which is often, the ownership of the bridge paperwork never seems to go with it.”
Though there exists that conflict, the Township has determined part of the bridge that they could be taking care of.
“The Township has court ordered the paperwork that shows that we are responsible for the blacktop part of the bridge, thus being all we will claim responsibility for.”
Now though, Powell says, even if she does not know much about the situation and its background, she knows that the state does not plow or maintain the road, making it that much more dangerous for anyone driving it.
As time has gone on, the “road closed” signs have been moved and replaced and moved again. After the vicious cycle with the signs on the bridge, the state made the decision to dump big piles of rubble or stone from a local quarry in order to block off the bridge. At one point there had been an unmarked state police car sitting at one end of the bridge in order to find out who was trying to drive across the bridge.
According to the Township, “There is another hearing scheduled for the end of April to continue to figure out who will end up being responsible for the repairs.”
Powell did say that “since it was a sudden closure, it shows that there was definitely something majorly wrong with it, making it dangerous. So maybe it’s for the better that it was in fact closed.”