The Upper Delaware Council sent the following letter to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, and the respective federal and state legislators for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, on February 1, 2022:
The Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) was pleased to hear President Biden’s January 14th announcement that the federal Department of Transportation has launched the Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program as part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law that Congress passed in November.
This program will invest $26.5 billion over five years to address the conditions of approximately 15,000 bridges, with the Federal Highway Administration immediately ready to distribute funds on a needs-based formula and allowing states the discretion to allocate these monies to projects of their choosing. As a significant incentive to states, no matching funds to the federal dollars are required and a portion of the funding is dedicated to local bridges off the federal highway system.
On that basis, the UDC encourages investing in the rehabilitation of the 1902 Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville, PA Bridge that has been closed to all uses since October 16, 2019 after failing a safety inspection. The bridge is one of 10 owned by the New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission that cross the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, a unit of the National Parks System. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation manages this crossing which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with New York State sharing its costs. A Planning and Environmental Linkages study is currently underway to determine the transportation need and purpose for the bridge.
Our non-profit organization, which includes among its 15 member municipalities Damascus Township, PA and the Town of Cochecton, NY that are linked by the single-lane, timber-planked bridge, strongly opposes the potential study alternative to tear down this locally treasured bridge to either eliminate the crossing or replace it with a standard-issue modern structure.
We favor rehabilitation of the existing 467-foot bridge to preserve its nationally-recognized, outstandingly remarkable cultural value, the rarity of its pin-connected Baltimore truss, unique ornamentation, tourism appeal, and facilitation of local commerce, emergency response, and daily living in the Upper Delaware River Valley. The availability of this bridge program funding offers the opportunity to save this historic gem that fits so perfectly into the rural setting that it serves. We would be happy to offer a tour and provide any additional information.
UDC Executive Director
(845) 252-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org