DYBERRY TOWNSHIP—Jim Sanders from the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society brought updates concerning efforts to establish a pedestrian crossing at the Tanners Falls Bridge before the Dyberry Township Board of Supervisors at their meeting last month held on Monday, May 14.
The steel-truss bridge has been closed to vehicles since 2007 due to structural deficiencies, but provides access by foot for myriad outdoor activities.
“It's used so much by fisherman, hunters, bicyclists, hikers,” said Sanders. “It's a great recreation access and it would be a shame to have it destroyed and not replaced.”
Debates about what to do with the bridge have gone on since its closure, but Sanders reported to the supervisors it is likely to be removed before much longer.
Sanders noted the area was closed off by wire fencing shortly after the society and other outdoor enthusiasts wrote letters to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) noting the robust use the bridge received by foot traffic.
This prompted some more daring individuals to access the bridge by climbing over the steelwork, said Sanders, adding that “Now people have cut a hole in the fence so that you can slip through the fence and cross the bridge.”
Sanders and other local supporters have been seeking funding solutions to allow the bridge to be replaced with a pedestrian-only crossing so recreational use may continue in the area.
“There are grant funds available to pedestrian bridges in the state,” said Sanders. “PennDOT has a large fund that could fund this crossing, but someone else needs to take ownership of the bridge.”
Finding another owner to take over the responsibilities of upkeep and maintenance has been difficult he noted.
“Typically, the grant money that's available from PennDOT requires a 30 percent monetary participation on the part of the grant applicant,” he added.
Sanders asked the board for support in the goal to replace the bridge with a pedestrian crossing to allow recreationists continued access to the area.
He noted this could take the form of vocal acknowledgement of the crossing's importance to outdoor activities in the area or the possible assistance of funding to meet a grant match.
Board Chairman Kevin McGinnis stated the township has supplied a letter to PennDOT in the past.
“We want it there, but we can't take possession of it,” he said.
Sanders noted at this stage they are still just looking to garner support from as many organizations as possible while working with the county to seek a permanent solution.
“If they take the bridge out and it's not replaced, I'm convinced that sportsmen and other people will be climbing down the rock face and crossing that creek at the falls,” said Sanders.