After more than a year and more than a million dollars, the East Center Street Bridge Project in Shavertown is complete.
The bridge, which was closed on April 16, 2012, re-opened to traffic on April 21. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was planned for April 26.
“We’re relieved,” Kingston Township Manager Kathleen Sebastian said of the bridge’s opening. “It’s beautiful. They did a fantastic job and everybody is thrilled.”
Sebastian explained that plans to renovate the bridge started in 2000 and included removing the old bridge, widening the area, building a new bridge and new roads.
Kingston Township budgeted $220,000, or 20 percent of the overall cost, while the remaining 80 percent of the project’s cost was paid for by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
“Everything went smoothly,” Sebastian said, although crews did run into soil erosion problems when digging into the creek bed, making redesigns necessary. “Everybody cooperated. Once it started, it was smooth sailing.”
Bob Nause, proprietor of Top Value Kitchens near the bridge, is “happy that it’s open,” although he admitted the closed bridge had little effect on his business.
“Ours is a destination business, not a spur of the moment sale,” he said. “A kitchen is a well-planned decision because of the cost involved.”
Nause said customers made every effort to get around the detour to get to his business which does not depend on retail flow.
“It was, however, a huge nuisance for tractor trailers delivering product,” he admitted, explaining how trucks needed to be re-routed to Main Street around Offset Paperback to reach his business.
The story is different for Greg Williams, owner of Studio 309 Music Antiques and Collectibles, who said his business suffered tremendously during the bridge reconstruction.
Williams rented a building on the corner of Main and Center Streets that he lived in as an 18-year-old just two weeks before the bridge closed, not knowing about the construction project.
“We suffered dearly and patiently,” he said. “We depend entirely on retail traffic and the only accessibility to our building was through the back door.”
Williams added that he was forced to sell a lot of his merchandise at area flea markets and on Ebay during the bridge project.
Of the bridge itself, however, he said, “The bridge is gorgeous. It looks fantastic and has done a lot to improve the infrastructure of Shavertown.”
Susan Collini, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons Ltd. at the intersection of Center Street and Route 309, mirrors Nause’s comments.
“Although it was difficult for people to get into the center, they did figure out a way to get here,” she said. “We didn’t face the same challenges the retail folks did.”
Collini does, however, feel the Main Street/Center Street intersection was safer than ever during the bridge reconstruction. A 3-way stop sign had been installed at the intersection during the project, slowing traffic in all directions. Now that the bridge has re-opened, the third stop sign has been removed.
“I’ve seen so many near accidents at that intersection before the 3-way stop sign was installed,” Collini said. “It’s a dangerous intersection. We have actually petitioned the township to put in a 4-way stop sign.”
As for the completed bridge project, Collini said, “It’s wonderful. It’s been a long time coming.”
She commended the workers and their attention to detail.
“I know it was a lot of money for the township but it was well worth it.”