Labor group urges funding for McCall bridge
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Carbon County Central Labor Chapter held up a banner on Friday night along Route 443 to bring attention to the poor state of the Thomas McCall bridge. From left are Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein; Roy and Linda Christman; and Charles Getz, Carbon County Commissioners and Terry Whiteman, president of the Carbon County Central Labor Chapter.
Members of Carbon County Central Labor Chapter displayed a banner to rush hour traffic Friday night along Route 443 and near the entrance to the Thomas McCall bridge, encouraging drivers to honk at their message to "Fix Our Bridges."
The group's mission is to pressure the state to fund bridges that are in disrepair.
Roy Christman and his wife, Linda, held up the sign as Roxanne Pauline, coordinator of Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation chatted with Carbon County Commissioners William O'Gurek, Charles Getz and Wayne Nothstein. Pauline said she realized that they do not control the funding, but wanted them to hear her message.
"The state has ignored our infrastructures," said Pauline. "Our bridges are in desperate need to replacement."
She said that her group has visited several deteriorated bridges in Pennsylvania to bring attention to the need to have them replaced.
One bridge on a main street in the borough of Moosic, Lackawanna County, subsided, causing the financial ruin to 70 percent of the businesses.
"It is inconvenient to people," she said. "That bridge was slated for repair in 2014. That is when funds are allocated."
"They need to open up the budget and get these bridge builders back to work," she said of the state officials.
She said that unemployment is hurting the economy and especially hurting union laborers who are out of work.
O'Gurek said that the bridge that crosses from Lehighton to Franklin Township was named after Thomas McCall because he took crumbling pieces that fell off the bridge to Harrisburg and laid them on Governor Robert P. Casey's desk.
"Now we are in the same predicament as back then," said O'Gurek.
"There are people living under this bridge," Getz said. "I know that the rating on this bridge is poor."
"They've pushed off doing something so long," said Nothstein. "It is so sad. Look at how long Jim Thorpe is waiting for that bridge to be fixed. They did a quick fix and it is still like that."
Pauline said that all across the country, the transportation infrastructure is in disrepair, but that lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives propose to cut funding for transit and transportation by one-third.
"The Laborers' International Union of North America estimates that such a cut would cost the nation 490,000 jobs over six years," said Pauline.
The Thomas McCall Bridge was built in 1938 and has a deck condition rating of fair. The superstructure condition rating is poor and has a poor substructure condition rating. The bridge has been deemed structurally deficient with a sufficiency rating of 36 out of 100.
Mccall represented the district from 1975 until his death in 1981. He son, Keith, was re-elected to nine succeeding sessions of the House and he also served several terms as Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee before being elected Majority Whip for the 2007-08 session.
An average of 23,011 vehicles use the bridge every day.