First Posted: 10/10/2014
WILKES-BARRE — PennDOT inspected the Market Street Bridge on Friday, but the state agency won’t issue a report on its findings anytime soon.
According to agency spokesman James May, the inspection conducted Friday had been scheduled for some time, and was not to include an evaluation of the columns on the bridge that have eagle sculptures perched on top.
Last week, The Times Leader provided photos to PennDOT, taken by a concerned citizen, showing gaps in the bases that support the eagles. The photos also showed a tree growing from one of the bases.
May said the tree will be removed and steps will be taken to ensure others don’t grow back. He said the gaps appear to be the same size as they were when PennDOT inspected the bridge in the 1980s.
May said the truck used for Friday’s inspection was not large enough to get to the top of the columns to inspect the gaps and remove the tree. He said that will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
“Once we remove the tree, our engineers will check to see if any damage” has occurred, May said.
May said last week that he and PennDOT engineers reviewed the file history of past inspections and found the gaps were there as far back as 1981 and appear to be unchanged. May said the bridge received another extensive inspection and maintenance in 1986.
Carl Handman of Kingston, an architect with offices in Forty Fort, reviewed the pictures and he said said he didn’t think serious problems exist now, but an inspection should be done and any preventive measures should be taken now, rather than years down the road.
May said PennDOT inspected underneath the entire bridge, under which the Susquehanna River flows.
The historic concrete arch bridge connecting Wilkes-Barre and Kingston opened in 1929. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.