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 Pa. Local Rallies for Rebuilding the State’s Bridges


October 17, 2011

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Northeast Pennsylvania’s rivers and railroad tracks are crossed by some of the nation’s most deteriorated bridges. The area’s AFL-CIO labor federation is rallying support to put unemployed building and construction workers back on the job building safe replacements.

On October 12, members of Scranton Local 81 joined Citizens in Action, local clergy, members of the laborers  union and other supporters at a rally on a bridge span over Canadian Pacific Railway tracks that was closed in March due to structural problems. A protest at another bridge was held in Williamsport the week before.

The rallies were widely covered in local newspapers, TV and YouTube

Local 81 Membership Development Coordinator Gino Arcurie says:

The Scranton bridge is terrible.  It has fallen apart, but construction is at a standstill.  Nothing’s going on. This is a major connection from one part of town to another and drivers, bus service and businesses are hurting.

When the state electrical worker’s association reviewed a list of bridges in need of repair, Local 81 committed to joining others to call attention to the need for the state’s legislature to approve funds for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure.

A story on the rally in the Times-Tribune  quoted Richard Yost, business manager for the Laborer’s District Council of Pennsylvania, who said, “You know what happened in Minneapolis,” referring to a bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007, taking the lives of 13 people.  “And it wasn’t that old of a bridge,” said Yost.

The Times-Tribune said:

According to a November 2010 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., 21 percent of bridges in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area are structurally deficient, meaning they show significant signs of deterioration.  Another 18 percent are functionally obsolete, that is, no longer meet modern design standards, including having appropriate lane widths or alignment with connecting roads or cannot handle the volume of traffic they experience.

Arcurie says the local’s advocacy for safe bridges and job creation helps bolster the union’s image in the community and will aid membership development efforts.