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Callicoon-Damascus Bridge Rehab Starts in July; Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge Future Uncertain

By Laurie Ramie,
Upper Delaware Council

RIVER VALLEY – A nearly $18 million rehabilitation of the 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge will get underway this July, while the study of alternatives for the closed 1902 Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville, PA Bridge is expected to wrap up by the end of summer.

The New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission also approved $5,899,000 to repair the 1939 Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge and $1,750,000 to finish painting the 1953 Cochecton, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge during its May 29 annual meeting to review inspection findings and vote on expenditures for the 10 bridges under its purview.

The contract for the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge rehabilitation was awarded on March 28 to Bette & Cring LLC of Latham, NY based on their bid of $17,859,059.

The contractor expects to start the job in early July. Work will continue through November 2027, during which time at least one lane will remain open to traffic. A causeway will be set up in the river to stage equipment as needed under a Boater Safety Plan to be monitored by the National Park Service (NPS) Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River unit.

Deficiencies identified in the most recent inspection on March 30 found that the bridge’s deck has widespread potholes and large cracks, railing sections suffered damage, the concrete piers and abutments are in poor condition with exposed and missing reinforcing bars, and the NY and PA approaches each need work. Steel members are deteriorating, and multiple joint headers, seals, and bearings require repair or replacement. The paint is at the end of its life cycle.

In 2021, the Commission had approved $2,212,000 to design the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge upgrade but two original contract-letting dates with plans to start construction last fall were delayed.

The nearly $6 million Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge capital project is to rehabilitate substructure and superstructure elements, as well as analyze re-decking options. It was recently announced that U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-8) secured $980,000 in federal funding to replace the open grate steel deck on this State Route 6 (Pennsylvania Avenue) two-span crossing with a reinforced concrete deck, along with making steel truss repairs. Work is due to begin this August through Spring 2025.

The Joint Interstate Bridge Commission approved another $460,000 to complete the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study and do preliminary engineering for the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge, which was shut down to all vehicular and pedestrian usage on October 16, 2019 after failing an emergency inspection.

The Commissioners had allocated $1,092,500 in 2023; $2 million in 2022; $400,000 in 2021; and $200,000 in 2020 for the PEL study and preliminary engineering.

A 45-day public comment period on the draft PEL study recently ended on May 26 and a summary report will be issued by late summer to guide decision-making over the bridge’s future. Alternatives are to preserve the existing bridge through traditional rehabilitation (repair), tear it down and build a new structure (replace), or eliminate the crossing entirely (remove).

Once the option is determined and a funding source is identified, it could take two years to obtain permits and environmental clearances for any type of construction to begin.

The bridge has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988 for its engineering significance and status as the oldest intact example of a two-span American Bridge Company pin-connected Baltimore Truss bridge in the United States. The NPS cites the 467-foot-long, ornamental steel bridge with a single-lane wooden plank deck as a vital contributing Cultural element to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River’s Outstandingly Remarkable Values that qualified it for national designation.

As the final scheduled capital project, rehabilitation of the Cochecton-Damascus Bridge that began in 2021 and resulted in a new deck, sidewalks, railing, pedestrian fence, and roadway approaches has only painting the second half of the bridge to wrap up by the end of June.

The Commissioners earmarked $115,000 for general maintenance, and snow and ice control, for the 10 bridges from April 1, 2024-March 31, 2025, compared to the $88,852 spent during that 2023-24 timeframe. The highest maintenance need tallies then were for the Port Jervis-Matamoras Bridge at $41,026 and the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge at $14,931.

The largest amount of anticipated maintenance dollars this fiscal year will be dedicated to the Port Jervis-Matamoras Bridge at $33,000; the 1992 Lordville, NY-Equinunk, PA Bridge at $25,000 to replace compressed joints, repair rail pedestals and the NY downstream fascia beam pedestal, and clean the deck; and the 2018 Narrowsburg, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge at $17,500 to address collision damage on the NY approach, spalling on sidewalk curbs, and graffiti, after having completed repair of the bridge lights that were illuminated during the daytime.

The other Delaware River interstate bridges and the dates of their establishment or major rebuilds are Pond Eddy, NY-Pond Eddy, PA Bridge (2018), Barryville, NY-Shohola, PA Bridge (2006), Kellams, NY-Stalker, PA Bridge (2018), and Hancock, NY-Buckingham, PA Bridge (1937).


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