LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Luzerne County Council voted Tuesday to inspect the closed Water Street Bridge to determine if the bridge can reopen in its current condition until a replacement or reconstruction is planned or completed.

The bridge, now called the Firefighters Memorial Bridge, connecting Pittston and West Pittston has been closed since August of 2021 after an inspection found a bent eye bar and extensive deterioration and erosion of the steel. Since its closure, traffic has become a significant issue.

Council member Brian Thornton raised concerns Tuesday over the Fort Jenkins Bridge carrying all local traffic over the Susquehanna River.

“There is a great danger right now, existing, as we sit here and speak. And it’s like this every single day, at that lone bridge that’s carrying all the traffic. That lone bridge is also trying to carry bicycles and pedestrians over it, while there’s 20,000 vehicles including trucks, tractor-trailers, everyday,” Thornton said.

Last month, PennDOT provided the county with several proposals — either a total rehabilitation or replace it entirely. Both options could take as long as 7 years.

“Doing nothing leaves that bridge closed for another 7 years, which is crippling the economy on both sides of the bridge, not to mention the dangers that exist right now,” Thornton said on Tuesday.

Another council member said 7 years for the bridge to be closed is “unfathomable” and “unthinkable”.

Council says the inspection comes with a price tag of a little less than $300,000.