Infrastructure plan would help Scranton projects, officials say

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May 8—SCRANTON — Roaring Brook's 60-year-old concrete flood-control channel coursing through South Side has held up over the decades but will need future upgrades and repairs, officials said Friday.

It's the type of big project that would benefit from President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan that would deliver billions of dollars throughout the nation for infrastructure work, Scranton Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti said during a media event alongside the waterway at Mattes Avenue and River Street.

Cognetti, a Democrat, and others made a pitch for public support for the Democratic president's plan that they said would help fund critical upgrades of roads, bridges, electrical grids, water infrastructure, schools and more throughout the nation.

"There's so much work that we need," Cognetti said. "The American Jobs Plan ... will help."

Tom Preambo, city Department of Public Works director, and Chris Jenkins, DPW manager of emergency control, described how the Roaring Brook channel, completed in 1961, stemmed from flood devastation in South Side from Hurricane Diane in 1955.

At about 60 feet wide and 4,000 feet long, the Roaring Brook channel cost about $1.1 million and feeds into the Lackawanna River, Jenkins said. There is no current cost estimate on potential upgrades. Engineering first would be required, and design, planning and construction phases would take years, he said.

"This is a major waterway. This would be a big part of the infrastructure update for the city," Jenkins said. "It's in good shape, it's doing its job, but as you can tell by looking at it, it's aging."

Other speakers included state Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-112, Blakely, Thom Welby, chief of staff for state Rep. Marty Flynn, D-113, Scranton, and Councilman Kyle Donahue, also a Democrat.

Donahue cited other areas needing stormwater upgrades, including Meadow Brook, Stafford Meadow Brook, Leggetts Creek and Keyser Valley.

Mullins likened the Biden plan to when the country "invested, built and employed its way out of the Great Depression" and later put men on the moon.

"But somewhere along the way, our leaders decided to disinvest and stand still as a country," Mullins said. "It's important that we as a country learn how to think big again."

Cognetti is running for re-election in the May 18 Democratic primary and faces a challenge from Scranton City Controller John Murray. Donahue is one of five Democrats seeking four council posts.

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