State Department of Transportation officials marked Friday as a milestone with the reopening of the new DuBoistown Bridge, the last of the replacement river spans that carry passengers to and from the city.
The bridge, also known as the Arch Street Bridge, later this month will officially be named after Marine Lance Cpl. Abarm L. Howard, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the law late last month to rename the bridge. The legislation was supported by local state legislators, including Reps. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, who introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, Garth Everett, R-Muncy and Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township.
Sandy Tosca, PennDOT district executive, said the replacement of the old bridge - which was determined to be structurally deficient - was completed on an "aggressive" time schedule.
She said replacement of all the river spans - Market, Maynard and the DuBoistown bridges - was "something we've been striving for since the 1980s."
The $18 million-project replaces a structure built in 1922. Tosca said the new bridge is expected to last nearly 100 years.
A detour that was in place for three months was lifted Friday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by residents of the city and DuBoistown, PennDOT staff, design firm representatives and elected officials.
Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland joked that it's hard to imagine that the oldest river bridge serving the city is now the Maynard Street Bridge.
Still, he said, there are more than 100 smaller bridges in the county out of a total of 717 that are classified as structurally deficient.
"We will give a lot of attention to fixing aging bridges" using Act 13 natural gas drilling fees," Wheeland said. But "Act 13 money alone will not be enough to fix the bridges of Lycoming County."
Wheeland called on leaders in Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg to invest more money into local transportation projects.
Mirabito said the bridge naming is a fitting tribute to Howard.
"It's a great way to recognize and honor a veteran who is no longer with us and to say thanks to him," he said.
Susquehanna Supply Company, of Williamsport, was the general contractor. Gannett Fleming Inc., of Camp Hill was the project designer.
Bob Kuntz, PennDOT project supervisor, said the remaining steel truss from the old bridge will likely be brought down in about three weeks after cleanup from the Nov. 6 demolition is complete.
DuBoistown resident John Bednarchik was on hand to see the ribbon cutting that opened the new bridge. He said he was pleased that his commute got a little easier.
"That detour - oh, my," he said. "They did a nice job. We needed it."