Community relieved to see Coxton Bridge demolished

People say the bridge is a disaster waiting to happen.

EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- A landmark bridge in Luzerne County is coming down and its destruction is a relief to many people who live along the Susquehanna River.

The Coxton railroad bridge connected Duryea and Exeter has been crumbling for decades. Many people, including engineers, say the bridge is a disaster waiting to happen.

"There used to be a trestle connected over there that was torn down years ago," says Mike Saia of West Pittston.

It took a little bit of coaxing with heavy machinery, but a piece of the Coxton Bridge crashed into the Susquehanna River Tuesday morning. The first of six spans was demolished.

"Well we're glad that we took it down and on our accord rather than the bridge telling us when it was coming down," says James Brozena, the project manager for the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority.

The bridge has not been used in 20 years and is slowly, bit by bit, falling apart.

"This has been on our radar since the 2011 flood event," says Brozena. "It has been deteriorating and the concerns was it's failure may cause potential flooding if it occurred during a high water event."

Eyewitness News inspected the bridge by boat during that September 2011 flooding. The stone columns were crumbling and debris was caught underneath the bridge, creating a dam-like effect.

"There was always the possibility that this bridge being in bad shape was going to come down during future storms and act as a partial obstruction," says Chris Belleman, director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority.

Removal of the six spans will take about a month.

"Normally we would shoot this bridge since we are an explosion demolition company as well, but since it's tight, we are going to do one span at a time," says Tom Batronis of Advantage Demolition. "That was we can get our materials out and not be blocked in by those materials."

"Sad to go but they don't use it anymore and it's a waste," says Saia.

The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority secured a $800,000 state grant to pay for the demolition. There are no plans to replace it.

The steel from the Coxton Bridge will be recycled with the proceeds coming to the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority.


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