Digital Exclusive: Historic bridge re-opens on Baylor Lake

Digital Exclusive

BENTON TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– An almost 200-year-old bridge on Baylor Lake was deemed unsafe and has been closed since 2015.

There were calls for the structure to be demolished and replaced but community leaders pushed for the historic bridge to be maintained. Residents in the area were just less than impressed with the timeline and the cost.

“Will I like it? I think it’s real nice and everything but I just can’t see the money in it,” said Nicholson Township resident Rick Swingle. “Seems like it should have been done a lot faster and a lot cheaper.”

PennDOT liked the idea of keeping the structure historical, but that meant working in phases through five seasons.

“Well, what you have to realize is that we took this structure down completely. We took it apart stone by stone and then we brought it back up stone by stone,” said assistant county manager for PennDOT Paul Menendez. “It could have been easily replaced within a couple of months with a culvert, however, the lake association wanted to try to maintain it. Likewise, so did we.”

The result is an impressive masonry project. It gives the scenic view at Baylor Lake a rustic aesthetic.

“It’s also historical so the next step, what we have to do, is get it on that registry,” said Representative Karen Boback. “It’s something that will stay for our progenies.”

While a lot of history has passed during its closing, the community is excited to have that ribbon cut and they can once again enjoy their piece of history.

“There were lots of times during the project that I know people were really frustrated or thought it was never going to happen,” said Baylor Lake Association member Sharon McCrone. “The tenacity, commitment and that sense of collaboration with the community, PennDOT, the association, and the township, that’s really important.”

As for the credit on this project, local representatives and organizations helped rally for the project, but it is the crew in the vests and hardhats that are being celebrated.

“All the credit goes to the guys who built it. PennDOT workers are looked at like all we do is plow snow and fix potholes,” added Menendez. “There’s a lot of skill. There’s a lot of talent and there’s a lot of pride that went into this job.”

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