Nobody ever said living in a city is all sweetness and light. Even a happy story has a dark side.
On Oct. 25, a bridge that takes Holme Avenue over a railroad freight spur was reopened to traffic after several months of rebuilding. That was great news for the more than 22,000 motorists who use Holme Avenue, because construction blocked the street from Covent Avenue to Arthur Street since late June, and the late-October completion was way ahead of schedule.
But the new-construction sparkle didn’t last long. It took vandals no more than three or four days to sneak down to the tracks to tag the bridge’s wall, said Bob Hubler, a Holme Avenue resident who lives nearby.
The graffiti really isn’t visible to pedestrians or motorists. At more than 20 feet below street level, the marked-up walls can be seen only by leaning over the bridge or by crews of freight trains that travel the infrequently used line.
Hubler wasn’t surprised. Vehicles owned by contractor Buckley & Company Inc. were vandalized when they were parked overnight near the bridge, and power tools were stolen, he said. Local youths party under the bridge during the warmer months and sometimes set fires, he added.
Eugene Blaum, a PennDOT spokesman, said Monday that the bridge’s walls had been painted with an anti-graffiti coating.
The coating makes it easier to remove graffiti, Blaum said, but not easy. It still takes a lot of work, which, he added, would be done on the Holme Avenue bridge in the next few weeks.
The bridge over the railroad tracks was in such danger of collapse that it had to be closed to all traffic in June. Ordinarily, Blaum said last month, construction goes on while some traffic is allowed on the bridge. Banning all vehicles actually helped move the work along, he added.
While that work was being done, problems were seen on an adjacent bridge that takes Holme Avenue over the small Wood Run. That bridge was repaired, too. ••