In less than two weeks, people around Watsontown and White Deer can stop making a detour of at least five miles to cross the Susquehanna River.
On Thursday, SEDA-Council of Governments announced that a "re-prioritization of the construction schedule for the White Deer Railroad Bridge restoration project" will allow traffic to cross between Watsontown and Route 15 beginning on Aug. 21. One lane will be open during daylight hours, and both lanes will be open at night and when no work is being done on the site, according to SEDA-COG.
White Deer Pike has been closed off since mid-May so SEDA-COG can connect a rail line into Great Stream Commons, a Union County-owned 444-acre business park that has 50 acres designated as tax-reduced through the Keystone Opportunity Zone program.
When work began in May, a detour allowed traffic to cross the Nurse Helen Fairchild Memorial Bridge from Watsontown and use a White Deer Township road to get around the rail bridge restoration, to Route 15.
Too many trucks using a small bridge over a creek on that detour caused concern, and SEDA-COG and PennDOT decided to close the bridge to traffic from Watsontown on July 23.
After the route reopens on Aug. 21, at least three more days of no traffic will be required to set steel beams, place the bridge deck and overlay the roadway.
"Everybody involved in the rail authority will do their best to get the word out about these closures," said Steve Kusheloff, SEDA-COG public information director. An announcement will be made 24 hours in advance.
Otherwise, this new traffic pattern will continue as announced until the work is done, which is expected to happen in late September or early October, Kusheloff said.