BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) —A bridge replacement is causing an uproar in a Luzerne County community.

Residents are concerned over the proposed detour and say it will jeopardize the safety of their community.

There are a number of concerns, safety being just one of them, another time Turning a five to ten-minute drive, into at least 35 minutes.

“Anyone that’s driven that road we’ve had accidents galore,” said Mark Petlock, Supervisor of Bear Creek Township.

“Half as much traffic ends up coming up laurel run road as what goes under the bridges on the turnpike, that’s how many vehicles you’re going to be detouring,” stated Will Clark, a Bear Creek Township resident.

Residents were uneasy listening to plans from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Monday night to replace this bridge on Laurel Run Road.

“You’re going to have a crash a day. It’s going to turn into a madhouse,” added a concerned citizen.

The bridge, built in 1957 is owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission which says it’s not in great shape.

“It’s classified as a structurally deficient bridge right now,” explained John Boyer, a bridge engineer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The bridge is a steel through-plate girder, meaning one side would not be able to support itself. That means they wouldn’t be able to replace one side at a time.

Residents aren’t arguing it needs to be replaced, but the impact the proposed detour would have on the community. One major concern is trucks and other traffic..

“We have enough semis that illegally come down that road now, what are you guys going to provide to stop that truck traffic,” asked Petlock.

“The biggest concerns would definitely be the accidents. We have a lot of accidents on Laurel Run Road, our mutual aid is Laurel Run. Like they said, our water supply here is very limited so we rely on tankers to come up that side,” said Robert Suchocki, the Fire Chief for the Bear Creek Township Volunteer Hose Company and Supervisor for Bear Creek Township.

“It would take longer for the children to get to school and travel the unsafe area of the alternate roadways,” said Bonnie Wasilewski a Wilkes-Barre resident.

There are roughly 14 miles of detour routes.

Drivers on the west side of the bridge, looking to get to 115, would have to take Laurel Run Road to Northampton Street to 309 business, to Highland Park Boulevard, to 81 north, to 115 south.

The detour would be the opposite for anyone looking to get from the top of the mountain to the west side of the bridge. Including EMS.

“They never came to us, they never went over plans with us, they never asked us, so it’s kind of a big concern on our end with fire and ems,” said Suchocki.

The schedule for this project is tentatively next spring through the fall. But first Bear Creek Township Supervisors need to meet with local fire and ems departments as well as the Turnpike Commission to address the concerns brought forward Monday night.