CARBONDALE, Pa. -- An on-again, off-again bridge replacement project in the city of Carbondale may finally get the green light, but after 30 years of delays, some residents say they'll believe it when they see it.
"It's about time."
That's the tune many Carbondale residents are singing after learning that the 6th Avenue bridge replacement project is finally moving forward again.
"Honestly, people don't believe that the bridge will ever get fixed."
The bridge first hit PennDOT's radar in 1989. Three decades later and the mayor of Carbondale says we're almost there.
"It's just they say the speed of government and unfortunately this is a very good but a very bad example of that," said Mayor Justin Taylor.
Years of red tape, permits expiring, design software changing, have delayed the project year after year.
In 2017, Newswatch 16 reported that 2019 would finally be the year for the bridge to be replaced. But the delays have gone on for so long that the bridge has actually become historic.
"All of a sudden we were notified that this particular design, it's called a melan arch, is the last remaining in the state. That wasn't the case five years ago."
A historical review had to be conducted to decide if the bridge is worth rehabbing. Ultimately, the decision was made to start fresh.
The first sign of progress will be the demolition of the former Chellino Hotel, which is expected to take place sometime next year, with construction of the bridge to follow.
The building shares a foundation with the bridge, so it has to be torn down first.
People who live in the city such as Thomas Riggs are glad to see it go.
"It could make a really major difference if it's actually taken out of here," Riggs said. "That's really been the issue for a lot of the residents. It's essentially city-sponsored blight. It's a building that has blown out windows and is really falling into disrepair and it's really just been sitting there for the better part of 15 years."
The bridge was closed to cars in 2005 but has remained open to pedestrians. It will be open to both once the bridge is replaced.