Broadway Street Bridge in Scranton deteriorates

Elm Company

Dec. 30—SCRANTON — The travel width of the Broadway Street bridge over the Lackawanna River will remain reduced indefinitely because of deterioration, a city official said.

The span, built in 1970, needs to be replaced. A new bridge is estimated to cost $5.6 million.

“There are no plans for immediate repairs on the Broadway St. bridge,” city Business Administrator Larry West wrote in an email. “The bridge will likely remain in its current lane configuration until a permanent replacement solution is determined,” which could take several years.

Last Friday, Scranton narrowed the travel area of the Broadway Street bridge after an inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation showed deterioration of some beams since the previous inspection in 2020.

The city also put a 32-ton weight limit on the bridge and a 40-ton limit for combined vehicles.

The narrowing of the travel area was accomplished with concrete barriers placed to keep vehicles away from the southern edge of the bridge. It is still wide enough for two lanes of traffic and remains open to vehicles traveling in both directions. Sidewalks also remain open.

But the cordoning off of one side of the span and the weight limit represent negative developments for a bridge that in recent years has shouldered an increase in traffic, a resident of nearby Third Avenue said.

“I do have concerns” about the worsening condition , resident Dan Santarsiero said.

Broadway Street and its bridge are the alternate route, via Third Avenue, of loaded road-salt trucks that cannot go over the 1958 East Elm Street Bridge because of its 10-ton weight limit. Trucks loaded with road salt come out of the American Rock Salt Company facility behind 210 W. Elm St. and cannot turn right to go over the East Elm Street Bridge because of the weight limit.

So, the trucks turn left onto West Elm Street, and then make the first, quick right turn onto Third Avenue. They drive to the end of Third Avenue and turn right onto Broadway Street and over the Broadway Street Bridge to get to South Washington Avenue and beyond.

Last year, in response to resident concerns about big truck traffic on Third Avenue, the city made Third Avenue one-way from West Elm Street to Broadway Street.

Attempts to reach American Rock Salt were unsuccessful Thursday.

A fully loaded tri-axle truck could range in weight from 30-36 tons depending on the configuration of the vehicle and how much and what kind of material is loaded, West said.

“A licensed commercial driver is responsible to know the loaded weight of the vehicle they are operating and to abide by posted traffic signs which includes weight restrictions,” West said.

Meanwhile, the condition of the East Elm Street bridge also has worsened within the past two years, as its previous 15-ton weight limit has been lowered to 10 tons.

The East Elm Street Bridge is tentatively scheduled for replacement between fall 2023 and fall 2024, according to a project overview posted on PennDOT’s website. It says that a 1.2-mile detour of the East Elm Street Bridge will use South Washington, Third and Fourth avenues and Broadway and Hickory streets.

“When they rip the Elm Street Bridge out, where is the traffic going to go? On Broadway, on Railroad Avenue and all the traffic from West Side will be coming this way,” Santarsiero said.

Three other bridges in the city also are in design phases for replacement, including Parker Street over the Lackawanna River, West Lackawanna Avenue over a rail line and North Main Avenue over Leggetts Creek.

The Broadway Street Bridge is among seven Scranton spans in the “most critical condition” for which replacement would be a better option than repairs, but will require federal and state funding, Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti said in a Nov. 22 letter to the Lackawanna Luzerne Metropolitan Planning Organization.

In the letter requesting prioritization for funding of these seven bridge projects, Cognetti lists them and their estimated costs of replacement in order of priority as follows:

—South Washington Avenue over Roaring Brook, $4,012,000.

—Hollow Avenue over Leggetts Creek, $1,796,000.

—Broadway Street over the Lackawanna River, $5,658,000.

—Myrtle Street over Roaring Brook, $5,120,000.

—Mary Street over Leggetts Creek, $977,000.

—Poplar Street over the Lackawanna River, $2,713,000.

—Albright Avenue over the Lackawanna River, $3,251,000.

emailto:Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter.

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