Critics of Luzerne County’s proposed $5 vehicle registration fee say many citizens are in the dark about which roads and bridges are owned by the county and stand to benefit from the additional revenue.
A review of county records shows the 125.3 miles of roads pass through 22 of the county’s 76 municipalities.
The roads are all in townships: Black Creek, Butler, Dallas, Dennison, Dorrance, Exeter, Fairview, Franklin, Hanover, Hollenback, Hunlock, Jackson, Kingston, Lehman, Plymouth, Rice, Ross, Salem, Slocum, Sugarloaf, Union and Wright.
In comparison, the 302 county-owned bridges are in 30 townships, six boroughs and two cities — Nanticoke and Pittston, records show.
These bridges range from stone arches and concrete spans of various sizes to steel girders and trusses — most crossing creeks and streams.
At 8.3 miles, Honey Hole Road in Butler and Dennison is the longest, followed by Main Road in Hunlock and Ross, which measures 7.74 miles.
The other roads that are at least 4 miles, identified by their common name, length and location, according to county employees and records:
• Hobbie-Wapwallopen Road, 6.57 miles in Dorrance, Hollenback and Salem
• Tunnel Road, 6.18 miles, Wright and Dennison
• St. Johns Road in Dorrance, which also passes through Hollenback and becomes Hobbie Road in Butler, 5.65 miles
• Foothills Drive, 4.72 miles, Butler and Sugarloaf
• Broadway Road, 4.56 miles, Ross and Union
• West County Road, 4.51 miles, Sugarloaf and Black Creek
• St. Marys Road, 4.18 miles, Hollenback and Dorrance
• Sutton Creek Road, 4.03 miles, Exeter and Franklin
• Lower Demunds Road, 4 miles, Dallas
The county also owns a combined 7.12 miles of roadway in the Hanover Industrial Estates, including New Commerce Boulevard.
Approximately 80 bridges are at least 20 feet. The three longest are over the Susquehanna River: the Water Street Bridge in Pittston, the Shickshinny/Mocanaqua Bridge in Conyngham Township, and the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge in Plymouth Township.
Built in 1920, the 1,500-foot steel Water Street Bridge connecting West Pittston and Pittston is deemed structurally deficient and carries a 20-ton weight limit, county road and bridge representatives have said.
Around 60 percent, or 182, of county-owned bridges are considered “structurally deficient” because one or more of their major structural components — the deck, superstructure and foundation — have cracks, erosion or other evidence of deterioration, officials have said.
Structurally deficient bridges are considered safe for travel but need costly repairs or replacement to meet current standards, officials say, noting some inspection findings have resulted in weight limits.
The 880-foot Shickshinny/Mocanaqua Bridge was built in 1994.
The Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge, a combination concrete-and-steel crossing spanning 2,072 feet, is labeled structurally deficient but has no weight limit, road and bridge has said.
This bridge requires continued maintenance and eventually will need replacement, which had been estimated at $25 million or more over a decade ago.
The vehicle fee may be approved by a council majority following a public hearing next month.
Several citizens have questioned how council can consider imposing the fee without a list of projects that would be funded.
County Manager C. David Pedri said Thursday the county has long had a road and bridge replacement plan to address infrastructure as funding is identified, and he is developing a tentative list of what projects may be covered through the vehicle fee revenue.
The fee on 281,000 vehicles would yield an estimated $1.4 million annually. The state will match up to $2 million to fix bridges in each county with a $5 fee, but only once.
Pedri said he wants to initially address the Water Street and Nanticoke/West Nanticoke bridges in addition to a few smaller spans that have significantly deteriorated and are instrumental for emergency access.
Construction of a new Division Street Bridge over Solomon Creek in Hanover Township and Wilkes-Barre, which has been estimated at $2 million, also is a high priority, he said. Residents of that neighborhood have said loss of the bridge has led to bottlenecks and hazardous driving by motorists cutting through side streets to escape congestion.
The Division Street project may be largely covered by a portion of the $15 million in county community development funds that will be earmarked for infrastructure, primarily in low- and moderate-income areas, Pedri has said. The money comes from a business development loan fund that is no longer in high demand.
Although the vehicle fee would be focused on bridges to obtain the match, money that had been budgeted for bridges may be reprogrammed to address more roads, he said, adding he is still researching specifics.
Full-depth road reclamation costs $300,000 to $400,000 per mile, Pedri said.
Chase Road in Jackson Township already was on a plan to obtain 80 percent state funding. The county is awaiting state authorization to proceed, with construction planned to begin this year, officials have said.
The county also had planned to seek bids this month to rehabilitate Foothills Drive and West County and Beisels roads in Butler and Sugarloaf townships.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.