Weissport borough officials have indicated they are a little nervous about the impending rehabilitation of the Thomas J. McCall bridge.
They have reason to be nervous.
When the bridge work occurs - possibly in 2014 - Route 209 and Route 443 traffic will be funneled through the tiny borough.
Weissport Borough Council has reportedly asked PennDOT about the possibility of placing a traffic light at intersection of Franklin and Bridge Street so residents can safely cross the road.
So far PennDOT hasn't responded.
It's true that the project is only in the design phase. But PennDOT should keep not only Weissport officials, but officials in Lehighton, Franklin Township, and Mahoning Township in the loop on project updates, narrative, and input.
There are other questions that should be discussed with input from the local officials:
• Will lights be added at the Lehighton end of the Bridge Street bridge?
• What about a light in Franklin Township at the intersection of Main Road and Canal Road?
• Will the 25 mph speed limit remain in force on Bridge Street in Weissport?
The bridge was built in 1938 and last rehabilitated in 1981. At that time, traffic was detoured through Weissport. But the volume of traffic being detoured even in 1981 was a fraction of what it is today.
The year 1981 was before Wal-Mart, Lowes, Giant, McDonald's, Burger King, and numerous other businesses located along Route 443, which greatly increased traffic on that highway.
One thing PennDOT should consider is holding a public hearing in either Lehighton, Weissport, or Franklin Township so that residents can hear first-hand about the improvements planned for the bridge and the traffic flow proposed during the construction work.
At such a meeting, residents also could give input on their feelings.
It's not too early for such a hearing or meeting. It's realized the design phase isn't completed, but comments that would arise at such a meeting might be of use for the design phase.
Hopefully, PennDOT will plan such a meeting in the very near future.
The borough officials - and the residents - have to be kept informed on this project. Big changes will occur in the town during the construction and the residents and officials can't have these changes sprung on them without advance notice, and without their input.
By RON GOWER