WILKES-BARRE — Grant money will cover the removal of a railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River, only after the owner exhausts all resources and can’t come up with the funds to pay for it, Luzerne County officials said Thursday.
The bridge, owned by Leo A. Glodzik III of Wilkes-Barre, has been deteriorating and drew the attention of the state Department of Environmental Protection due to the danger of it collapsing and damming the river.
Glodzik did not return a message seeking comment.
County officials have met with the DEP to clear up some miscommunication, said Christopher J. Belleman, executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority.
“The county doesn’t own the bridge. From a public safety standpoint we’re anxious to have the bridge removed,” Belleman said.
Even though the county has grant money available, it wants Glodzik to come up with the money for the removal. If he is unable to after all pursuing all avenues, only then will the county get involved, Belleman explained.
“The funds are there, but they’re to be used as a last resort,” Belleman said.
Andy Reilly, executive director of the county Office of Community Development, reiterated the county’s position.
DEP was informed, “It’s basically in their hands,” Reilly said.
On Monday DEP met with Glodzik, said Colleen Connolly, spokeswoman for DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre.
He’s still “looking at his options” in order to respond to a notice DEP sent out in April to either dismantle or repair the structure, she said. The department has not reached the stage where it will issue an order against him, she added.
“It’s up to Mr. Glodzik at this point to find the funding,” Connolly said.
The state is a distant possibility to pay for the project if Glodzik can’t come up with the money, Connolly said.
“We could, but we’d have to locate the funding,” she said.
However, Connolly acknowledged that she could not recall a similar case of the state taking over the demolition of a privately owned bridge.
Glodzik’s business, L.A.G. Wrecking Inc., purchased the bridge for $500 from the county Redevelopment Authority in 2007. He planned to tear down the structure and sell it for scrap.
It sustained damage to the piers during the historic flooding in 2011. At the time the authority warned Glodzik of the problems with the bridge.
Earlier this year, DEP sent a “Notice of Violation” to Glodzik after a Feb. 28 inspection of the 1,000-foot span.
The bridge was in violation of The Dam Safety and Encroachments Act because, among other things, the owner did not have a permit and failed to keep it in safe condition.
“The bridge’s steel is heavily rusted and two of the piers have sustained a significant amount of deterioration. It also appeared that the structure is in imminent danger of collapse, which would create an immediate danger of a stream obstruction and hazard to life and property,” the notice read.
DEP listed two ways for Glodzik to come into compliance:
• Remove the bridge and piers and properly restore the site;
• Propose and complete modifications to the existing structure that will assure that the structure is structurally sound.
That wasn’t the only financial news related to Glodzik to emerge on Thursday.
According to paperwork in the Luzerne County Prothonotary’s Office, an $808 commonwealth lien was filed against one of Glodzik’s businesses, L.A.G. Transport of Foote Avenue, Duryea.
It is only the latest of several liens filed against Glodzik and his business interests in the past year, including accusations that he owes more than $500,000 in unpaid personal income taxes.