Four Upper Delaware River Bridges Set for Replacement or Major Repairs
DUNMORE – The pending replacement of the 1904 Pond Eddy Bridge and major rehabilitations for Upper Delaware River crossings in Narrowsburg, Cochecton, and Skinners Falls dominated the reports at the New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission’s annual meeting held May 13 at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 4-0 headquarters.
The commission discussed an estimated expenditure of $15.5 million to construct a single-lane concrete bridge in Pond Eddy, while noting that this preliminary figure includes a 15% contingency over the base cost and is still under review by both states.
With environmental clearances completed, the Pond Eddy Bridge replacement is now in the final design and permitting phase. The contract is due to be advertised on March 18, 2016 and let on April 1, 2016.
Construction activity for the 504-foot long, two-span bridge to be located approximately 55 feet upstream of the current bridge is expected to begin that summer and continue for two seasons.
Stages of work include constructing a temporary, partial causeway in the river for equipment due to the extremely limited access on the PA side, building the NY abutment and erecting the NY span truss by Fall of 2017. Vehicular traffic will be maintained on the existing bridge and boating traffic will be directed to the PA channel.
From Winter 2017-Fall 2018, the causeway will be relocated to enable the construction of the PA abutment and span truss, with boating traffic diverted to the NY channel. Vehicular traffic should be permitted on the new bridge by Winter of 2018. The razing of the current bridge, which was the subject of an unsuccessful marketing effort to relocate it for adaptive re-use, should be complete by Fall of 2019.
Replacement of the Pond Eddy Bridge, which earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places due to its Pennsylvania Truss design, has been controversial.
The bridge provides the only crossing from New York State Route 97 to approximately 27 land-locked properties in Pond Eddy, PA. The need and price tag for a 40-ton capacity bridge cost-shared by both states has been questioned. Its restrictive 7-ton weight limit and the frequency of costly emergency repairs to maintain the timber deck and aging steel members placed it on the capital projects list over two decades ago.
Engineering reports have consistently concluded that rehabilitation is not a viable option.
A Pond Eddy Bridge Design Advisory Committee which met four times between Dec. 2011 and Aug. 2013 recommended to the DOT a curved steel truss design, architectural treatments and color schemes reminiscent of the current aesthetic, with a six-foot sidewalk and railing system that will enhance views of the river.
The 1954 Narrowsburg, NY-Darbytown, PA Bridge has been reduced to one lane with controlled traffic lights at either end since 2013 after a Fall 2012 inspection revealed that 32% of the deck was in a state of advanced deterioration, which led to down-posting the weight limit as an alternative to closing the bridge.
The Commission announced that a public meeting will take place this July at a date and location to be determined to provide an update on the status of this projected $13.5 million rehabilitation project.
This action comes in response to a citizen petition drive which generated hundreds of letters from concerned residents, merchants, commuters, and visitors in the Narrowsburg area, as well as correspondence from the Town of Tusten, Upper Delaware Council, Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, and NYS Senator John J. Bonacic, among others, expressing concern over the wait and negative impacts of any potential bridge closures to accommodate the repair work.
The project is undergoing preliminary engineering and environmental clearances, with plans to advertise the contract on October 25, 2016 and let it on Dec. 1, 2016. Once the notice to proceed is given, likely in Spring 2017, project completion is targeted by Fall 2018.
PennDOT Assistant Liaison Engineer Susan Williams reported that 15 overnight closures are currently anticipated which would necessitate short-term traffic detours, but that every effort will be made to minimize their duration and timing, with advance notifications provided to the community and emergency responders.
Town of Tusten Councilman Norman Meyer, who said he was in attendance to hear what was in store for the Narrowsburg Bridge, told the DOT officials to expect those work closures to be a primary topic at the July public meeting.
An allocation of $640,000 to cover final design and other preparatory work for the Narrowsburg Bridge was approved for the April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 fiscal year.
The Interstate Bridge Commission also earmarked $2.5 million in rehabilitation costs for the 1953 Cochecton, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge.
A design was approved in October of 2014 for repairs to the concrete deck and bridge joints. While no specific schedule was offered as yet for the 2016 work, DOT officials said that there will be one lane of traffic open at all times while it proceeds.
The carrying capacity on the single-lane, wooden decked Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville, PA Bridge built in 1901 was increased back to 4 tons after high-priority repairs were completed in Spring 2013.
A $400,000 allocation was approved for this fiscal year to subsidize the ongoing preliminary engineering, studies, and final design for rehabilitation. The contract is due to be advertised on January 5, 2017 and let on February 9, 2017. Project duration is currently unknown.
Looking ahead to 2018 is a major rehabilitation of the 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge, which requires concrete repairs to the piers and abutments. A consultant is being selected to guide that planning process.
National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Management Assistant Carla Hahn suggested that NY DOT and PennDOT consider holding a joint public meeting in the Upper Delaware River Valley to discuss the timing of all the pending bridge work to avoid issues with overlapping closures. “The entire valley is up for construction. Our visitor season is very short, and so is the construction
season. We would like to see the schedules coordinated,” she said.
PennDOT District 4 Executive George Roberts replied that he could see the value in a forum to look at “the bigger picture”, while NY DOT Region 9 Director Jack Williams agreed that it could also be a good opportunity to inform people about the function of the NY/PA Joint Interstate Bridge Commission.
No funds were earmarked on the 2015-16 fiscal year capital projects schedule for the 1937 Hancock, NY-Buckingham, PA Bridge; the 1939 Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge; the 1990 re-built Kellams, NY-Stalker, PA Bridge; the 1992 re-built Lordville, NY-Equinunk, PA Bridge; or the 2006 re-built Barryville, NY-Shohola, PA Bridge.
A total of $130,250 was approved for general maintenance, work on the NY and PA approaches, and snow and ice control, for all 10 bridges this fiscal year, compared to the $116,206 spent from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015.