HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The March snow is still frustrating people in the Midstate, including pedestrians in Harrisburg.
Sidewalks on the city’s two major bridges remain snow-covered, and PennDOT is facing obstacles — both logistical and environmental — trying to get them cleared.
Standing on the Market Street Bridge at City Island and looking toward Cumberland County, you can’t tell there’s a sidewalk at all. The snow is piled as high as the concrete barrier that separates the pedestrian lane from vehicle traffic.
For the last couple days, whether you’re walking or driving into the county, you’re in the road.
“It’s bad. It’s pretty bad,” Michael Davis said. He lives in Harrisburg but works at one of the restaurants just across the river in Wormleysburg as a cook.
He doesn’t have a car and walks to work. But the last couple days, it’s been, in his words, “a hot mess, to be honest.”
“This is a pretty bad little stretch here when you’re walking,” Davis said, starting the trek back to Dauphin County, walking in the street with traffic coming at him.
Neither the Market Street Bridge nor the Harvey Taylor Bridge has clear sidewalks yet. It makes Davis’ walk uncomfortable.
“It’s dangerous,” he said, “because you got a lot of people texting on their phones and looking down.” There were a few near-misses on Thursday’s walk.
It’s PennDOT’s responsibility to clear the walkways, so why aren’t they clear?
“We run two full shifts of 42 trucks,” said Dale Good, PennDOT’s Dauphin County maintenance manager.
Those shifts are still running full-time, he said, two days after snow stopped falling. This has been a tough storm for the transportation agency. Drifting snow has required trucks to be out on the roads much longer.
They’d have to pull resources from that work to clear sidewalks, Good said, bringing in heavy equipment and shutting down a lane on the bridge to do it.
“We can’t just shovel it off,” he said, “because there’s nowhere to shovel it because the river’s on one side and the roadway’s on the other side.”
As logical a solution as it may seem, workers can’t just dump it into the river — it’s full of chemicals used to de-ice roads and provide traction. Dumping a large amount of it into the water at once would be a shock, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection said.
Letting it melt slowly and naturally on City Island — even though it eventually reaches the same water — dilutes the chemical and filters out solid pollution before it reaches the water, the DEP says.
“I think there should be a plan of some kind, though,” Sandi Kraybill said.
Her son tried to walk to his new job in Harrisburg Wednesday. He just moved to a new place in Lemoyne the day before — the day the snow started falling.
She understands PennDOT’s position that the roads are their priority but wants to see something done.
“I mean, you’re going to have the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday,” she said. “I’m sure there’s going to be people who are going to want to walk for that.”
Same with Davis. He just wants a safe walk.
“Have consideration for pedestrians out here,” he urged PennDOT. “I’m a working man. I don’t have a vehicle, so I have to get to work the best way I can.”