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People's Bridge repair will benefit West Shore business, proponents say

Proposals to repair and reopen the western span of the
People’s Bridge from City Island to Wormleysburg could have a
significant
economic impact on borough business, said West Shore proponents of the plans.

Proposals to repair and reopen the western span of the
People’s Bridge from City Island to Wormleysburg could have a significant
economic impact on borough business, said West Shore proponents of the plans.

A repaired bridge would bring more foot traffic to the West Shore
to frequent shops and restaurants, giving life to Wormleysburg’s
revitalization, said David Morrison, a member of the People’s Bridge Coalition,
which has been advocating for the repair and reuse of the bridge.

The borough, with Camp Hill and Lemoyne, will begin
streetscape improvements this year to make the West Shore
communities more attractive.

Before any work on the bridge begins, Wormleysburg will have
to address the parking problems on Front
Street at the foot of the bridge, said Chris
Gulotta, executive director of the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment
Authorities
. The area includes popular restaurants and businesses, such Dukes
Riverside Bar & Grill
and Dockside Willies.

Once those issues are resolved, even a partial opening of
the bridge as a fishing pier could add to Wormleysburg’s economy, he said.

“We should see additional business development,” Gulotta
said.

The coalition, county, state Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources
, Hampden Township-based Delta Development Group Inc. and the
Wormleysburg Revitalization Committee yesterday released a report outlining the
options and costs for repairing the bridge.

Three spans of the bridge were damaged in the 1996 floods,
two fell immediately and a third span fell down later.

Replacement of the bridge with spans from a similar bridge
or new construction would each cost more than $13 million, which Delta
Development said in its report could be too expensive to happen before 2013.

Delta proposed intermediate steps, including buying,
dismantling and storing the replacement bridge spans to come from the Pond Eddy
bridge
in Pike County. That would cost $810,000, for
which the county has more than half of the money secured, Gulotta said. The
Pond Eddy bridge is scheduled to be replaced by 2013.

Delta also suggested rehabilitating the remaining bridge
sections and reopening them to the public as observation and fishing piers.
That would cost more than $1.5 million, and the county has nearly $1.2 million
in secured funding, Gulotta said.

“I think there’s opportunity to bring some private sector
fundraising into this,” he said.

The repair and replacement plans could create 250
construction jobs, he said.

The redevelopment authority is planning a meeting in April
to gather input from the public about how best to proceed, Gulotta said.

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