First Luzerne County bridge completed from controversial $5 vehicle fee

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HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A unique bridge project in Luzerne County is now complete. It was funded by the controversial $5 vehicle fee for Luzerne County residents.

The West Liberty Street Bridge in Hanover Township is now open for drivers, but more importantly, heavier vehicles like school buses or firetrucks.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday on the newly contructed West Liberty Street Bridge. In Hanover Township, the project a long time coming.

“We were at the point where school buses couldn’t drive over this, certain trucks couldn’t drive over this,” said Dave Pedri, Luzerne County manager.

After a bridge inspection in 2019, the weight limit was reduced. At the time, Luzerne County did not have the funds for this type of structure to be fixed.

“This bridge that we’re standing on here today costs $750,000,” said Pedri.

The bridge was fixed with the Luzerne County vehicle registration fee, a $5 fee in place since 2017. The fee raised over $2 million for roads and bridges. That $2 million was matched by the state.

“People always say, ‘where does my money go? Where does it go, I get taxed, I have no idea where it goes. I have no idea what happens,” said Pedri. “This road was actually fixed with your money. Your $5, my $5.”

Hanover Township manager Sam Guesto is elated the project is finally complete, and thankful to county residents.

“We want to thank the county. We want to thank the county for what you see here today, which is a bridge that can withstand and withhold our big vehicles and our apparatuses that need to come over this to serve our community over here in the northeast section of our township,” said Guesto.

While the bridge was closed the Hanover police chief says there was a short delay to residents on the north side of the bridge.

“It took a couple minutes longer in an emergency response protocol. Probably two or three minutes, but two or three minutes means alot,” said chief Albert Walker, Hanover Twp. Police Department.

Now that you can drive on West Liberty Street from Ashley to Hanover Township. Those who live on either side of the bridge are glad the closed road sign is gone.

“Well it’s going to save a lot of time. Instead of going all the way around Ashley, I can go right down to Lee Park or Wilkes-Barre in two seconds. It’s going to save a lot of time,” said John Woss, neighbor.

There are three other projects across Luzerne County to be used with the vehicle registration fee: Hollenback Township, New Columbus, and Kingston Township.

The vehicle fee was voted on in February 2020 to end the fee on December 31, 2021.

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