LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — From Skycam 16, you can see that whether it's winter ice jams or summer events, The Firefighters' Memorial Bridge that connects Pittston and West Pittston over the Susquehanna River is a frequent focal point for our storytelling at Newswatch 16.
Right now, the bridge is closed after a failed inspection, and all traffic between the municipalities is forced to cross the Dale J. Kridlo Memorial Bridge (formerly Fort Jenkins Bridge). Now the story being told here by drivers is filled with frustration.
"Yeah, Oh yeah, yeah, there's always been two bridges here, and being consolidated now down to one bridge is a traffic nightmare. And especially with the winter months coming, I think it's just going to get worse," said Michael Dziak of Exeter.
Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo says traffic flow over both bridges is what's needed.
"It doesn't work for the flow into our downtown. It doesn't work for the flow into West Pittston. It doesn't work for the people in Greater Pittston or Greater Wyoming area that are going back and forth across; it just doesn't work," said Lombardo.
He tells Newswatch 16 getting traffic back on the bridge is a three-way effort between the city of Pittston, West Pittston, and the county.
The three are hoping new infrastructure bill money can be used to, at minimum, repair this bridge. But Lombardo also says the city has put so much effort into it that he doesn't want anything deterring people from coming into downtown.
"We're going to be very defensive about anything that we feel like is an attack on that condition," he explained.
The mayor is asking people to have patience when driving between the municipalities. He and other leaders in the area are fighting to keep both bridges open and perhaps expand them.
"I think we've got some good data for our argument, and I'm optimistic that, you know, sometime in the new year, maybe before the new year, maybe in the next week or two, we'll have sort of an announcement on what it appears to be and where we're headed," added Lombardo.
Lombardo says now is a good time to be in this position because there are more funding possibilities for projects like this that opened up in the last year.
Ideally, he would like to expand the bridge to make it easier for pedestrian and bike traffic, but the main goal is to get it open to drivers again.
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