ASHLEY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A small community in Luzerne County is fighting to keep a historic landmark standing.
The narrow tunnel on Culvert Street in Ashely Borough is the only entrance to the community that residents refer to as “The Patch.” Its future is up to the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority, after the Ashley Borough Council voted not to purchase the bridge 4-2.
Now, residents have varying views. Some say they will fight to the end to keep the over 100-year-old bridge alive, going as far as taking matters into their own hands and maintaining it themselves. Others are concerned about safety and emergency response time since the narrow tunnel is tough for big vehicles to navigate through.
“The arch is a historical site, it’s a historical monument and we’re in the process of applications and begging anybody who knows anything about the historical area and how to go about it to help us,” said community resident Jennifer Heller. “It’s been standing for well over 100 years without any deformation to the arch barrel according to the reports we’ve had done.”
The tunnel was built in 1915 and residents say it’s one of the last pieces of coal mining history the Ashley Borough has left.
“The culvert itself used to carry hundreds of thousands of tons of coal daily in and out of the Huber breaker daily when it was still there,” Heller said.
The fate of the old railroad bridge now lies in the hands of the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority.
“The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authoritiy asked the Ashley Borough Council to consider whether or not it wanted to purchase the Culvert Street Bridge for $1 and the Ashley Borough Council voted to not purchase the bridge,” said borough solicitor, Peter Moses.
That failed resolution shook residents of the quiet community to the core.
“The only people coming out of this patch is people who live here,” said resident Nicole Kuspiel. “We want it quiet, that’s why we bought the home here to be quiet.”
Kuspiel is concerned with what losing the tunnel might mean.
“If they knock it down and put another bridge or something to come into the patch that there will be more congestion, my next door neighbor has small children who has special needs,” she said.
The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority has a meeting on February 18th. Residents are hoping they will turn it over to their organization that they’re calling the Culvert Street Preservation Society.