Work on the railroad bridge spanning Loyalsock Creek will stay on track with a little help from the Lycoming County commissioners.
On Thursday, the commissioners agreed to draw down a portion of a Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank loan so the SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority can pay for construction of the bridge.
The county secured the $12.6 million low-interest loan to help pay for numerous transportation improvements, including the construction of the railroad bridge, for which $3.5 million was dedicated.
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The railroad bridge over Loyalsock Creek was badly warped after flooding last September, forcing the Lycoming Valley Railroad to find an alternate route to customers on the other side of the creek. Norfolk Southern Railroad lines are being used to circumvent the bridge at a cost of about $500,000 a year until the new bridge is open. Action Thursday by the county commissioners is intended to keep the project moving along.
The bridge was old and in disrepair and slated to be replaced in several years as part of a larger project that included the construction of an access road to the Williamsport Regional Airport, according to William Kelly, deputy director of the county Department of Planning and Community Development. The access road, and a multi-modal bridge carrying the road, railroad tracks and a pedestrian bikeway across the creek, was proposed just downstream from the site of the original bridge.
However, when flooding on Loyalsock Creek in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee damaged the bridge beyond repair last September, the authority decided the bridge replacement project needed to move forward much quicker.
That is because the bridge carried Lycoming Valley Railroad lines, which are owned by the rail authority, over the creek. Businesses on both sides of the creek are served by the lines. Norfolk Southern Railroad lines are being used to circumvent the bridge at a cost of about $500,000 a year until the new bridge is open.
The bridge will be built on the same alignment as the original bridge. The rail authority will pay the debt service on the portion of the loan they use, Kelly said.
The rail authority is requesting $1.8 million of the dedicated funding, Kelly said. The $1.7 million balance will be needed later this year and early next year, he said.
The access road project has been "redefined," according to Mark Murawski, county transportation planner. Access to the airport will be improved via the Borough of Montoursville's existing street system instead of building a new road, he said.
The county, in partnership with the state Department of Transportation and Williamsport Regional Airport Authority, is working to rededicate the access road funding to help pay for a new terminal building at the airport.
Part of the road was to be built on top of a flood control levy designed to protect the Borough of Montoursville, Murawski said. The levy still will be built, Murawski said.