Boaters told bridge is operational

By Tony E. Windsor

Owners of boats passing through the railroad bridge access along the Nanticoke River in Seaford should enjoy a much more pleasant navigational experience this boating season. Last year boaters faced some very unpleasant challenges during some of the hottest days of the summer, according to representatives of the Nanticoke River Yacht Club.

Patt Linnane, NRYC commodore, said during last year's boating season, the railroad bridge in Seaford was closed for repairs on and off frequently and created very frustrating conditions. "We would have boaters who docked their boats in the Blades Marina and they would go out for a day's travel along the river only to come back and find the railroad bridge closed," she said. "They were essentially left stranded. If they did not have friends nearby who had a place to dock their boat they were forced to float around waiting for the bridge to open. I know of some people who were stranded on their boats during some of the hottest days of the year."

Linnane said there was a visitor to the Yacht Club last year who wanted to stay for an event but was told the railroad bridge would be closed, so he had to leave early to avoid being locked into the Marina. "Normally, the bridge does not present a problem," Linnane said. "However, last year there were a lot of closings. The boating season is about to start so we are hoping the bridge is going to be open. There are a lot of boaters who are chomping at the bit to get out on the water."

The railroad bridge is owned and maintained by the Norfolk Southern Railway. Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for the railway, said it is necessary to do work on the bridge at times and it is for the safety of railroad transport as well as for the boaters. While he is not aware of the specifics of last year's closings, he said his contacts have assured everyone that the bridge is currently operational and will be open on March 15, for the boating season.

Ron Hutton, a NRYC board member, said that traditionally boaters are able to call ahead and notify bridge authorities that they will be coming through the channel and the bridge will be opened. However, the number of unannounced closings and inability to get the bridge opened for long periods of time last year, led to frustrations. "We have been told the bridge is going to be open on the 15th and we hope that is the case," he said. "We certainly don't want another season like we had last year."

The railway bridge is scheduled to be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily March 15, through Nov. 15. Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and from Nov. 16 to March 14, boaters will need to notify the railroad Bridge Tender about the need to access the channel. This requires a 2 to 2 1/2 hour notice by calling 717-541-2151 or 2140.

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