Last updated: July 28. 2014 11:19PM - 829 Views
By Jon O’Connell joconnell@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Steel materials reported stolen from a pending bridge project will not delay construction, according to the Sidney Street Bridge site superintendent.

Wilkes-Barre Police reported on their Facebook page last week they are investigating the theft of H-pile and I-beam steel pieces taken between Wednesday night and Thursday morning from the West Sidney Street construction site in the Miners Mills section of Wilkes-Barre.

The stolen pieces were small in size, between 2 and 6 feet long, Mike Bonham, site superintendent for contractor Leeward Construction of Honesdale, said. The beams are used to frame the bridge and weigh about 75 pounds per foot, he said, so some of the pieces could have weighed up to around 450 pounds.

“They definitely struggled to get them,” Bonham said of the thieves.

The site has been victim of a few other thefts since construction began.

Without documents immediately available, Bonham couldn’t quantify the value of this most recent case; however, he said thieves have made off with between $1,500 and $2,000 in steel in the combined thefts, all of which have been reported to police.

Wilkes-Barre City Operations Director Butch Frati explained that the pieces were remnants of original beams that had been cut off from their original lengths and set aside for future use.

They’re not just junk, Bonham said.

“The pieces that we cut off, a lot of times we’ll incorporate them into other areas,” he said.

Initial reports about last week’s theft had created buzz that the project would be delayed, but Bonham said workers still are on target to meet the September completion date for the $2.8 million project.

The Sidney Street Bridge, which spans Mill Creek, has been out for more than a year.

PennDOT engineers now are coordinating with Leeward’s engineering team to work through some structural concerns, which now are holding up the project. Bonham said they expect to get back to work soon.

The bridge had served as the only access to a small cluster of about 35 homes on the other side of Mill Creek. During construction, a new road was opened through the former Carbon Sales factory property so residents can get in and out from Mill Street.

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