The Centre Street Bridge, which spans Pohopoco Creek to the Borough of Parryville, was opened again on Friday after seven months and $1.7 million of reconstruction.

State Rep./House Speaker Keith McCall, who described the bridge as the gateway to Parryville, spoke at a ceremony to mark the event.

Roger Drake, project manager for Clearwater Construction, Mercer, Mercer County, was also on hand for the ceremony, as were architect Marshall Walters, who did the rock work on the sides of the span; PennDOT Project Manager Calvin Ulshafer and Assistant Construction Engineer Marie Christman.

There's so much to be done to improve Pennsylvania's infrastructure that getting money to replace or repair bridges isn't easy, McCall said. "The bridge was authorized for replacement "at least 20 years ago," he said.

McCall, the former state Transportation Chairman, helped steer funds to Carbon County.

The Jim Thorpe bridge is being replaced at a cost of about $24 million. Replacing the Thomas J. McCall Memorial Bridge in Weissport "could be almost double that amount," he said.

The project to refurbish the 76-year-old span, which carries an average daily traffic count of 468 vehicles, began March 9.

When it was built in 1933, the bridge was 84 feet long, 26 feet wide and had a weight limit of 12 tons. The project replaced the structurally deficient steel I-beam bridge with a pre-stressed concrete box-beam bridge, improved drainage, and installed new bridge roadway approaches and pavement markings.

Now, it is 80 feet long, 35 feet wide and has no weight restriction.

"This bridge was on Gov. Ed Rendell's Accelerated Bridge Program," said PennDOT District Executive Michael W. Rebert. "Last year, PennDOT turned out over 470 bridge projects. This is one of the first bridges we've completed in District 5 on that program."

Parryville resident Christina Clark is glad the bridge, closed for seven months, is now in good shape and open again. "Oh, I'm happy," she said. "I'm glad it was opened before the snow came."

While the bridge was closed for seven months, a detour took traffic over Route 248, Route 209 and Cherry Hill Road.

'It was a real inconvenience going around," she said. "Clark worried that with the detour, it would take too long for residents in need of emergency medical attention to get to a hospital.

The detour was "about three to five miles, depending on which way you went," said resident Robert Marasiak.