Vandals strike quickly at Holme Avenue bridge

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. ••

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