Photo: 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge
RIVER VALLEY – The New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission offered no timeframe to decide the fate of the historic Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge at its May 25 annual meeting, but advanced plans for an $18,040,000 major rehabilitation of the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge to start next year.
The contract for the 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge is scheduled to be awarded on February 2, 2023, with construction work staged over two seasons to allow one alternating lane to remain open to traffic.
Last year, they approved $2,212,000 to design its upgrade after engineers determined that its steel members are rapidly deteriorating, the substructure has exposed and missing reinforcing bars on all piers and abutments, the wearing surfaces of the deck and approaches are cracked with potholes, and the paint has reached the end of its life cycle.
Commissioners also earmarked $2 million on the April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023 Capital Projects Schedule to continue studying alternatives and do preliminary engineering for the 1902 Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville PA Bridge, which has been barricaded against all motorists and pedestrians since failing a safety inspection on October 16, 2019.
PennDOT District Bridge Engineer Gerard Babinski reported that the historic bridge remains under evaluation “to determine rehabilitation, replacement, or other.” When asked for a timetable, officials said that an “expedited” environmental clearance document to inform the study may be available by the end of this year.
Previous estimates suggested that it could take two years after the final alternative to either preserve the existing bridge, build a modern structure, or eliminate this interstate crossing entirely is chosen to secure funding and permitting before any type of construction could begin.
The Commission had allocated $200,000 in 2020 and $400,000 in 2021 for the Skinners Falls Bridge Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) initiated in October of 2020.
The process has included convening a Project Advisory Committee that met twice virtually on Feb. 22 and Sept. 23, 2021; stakeholder interviews; one March 30, 2021 virtual public meeting; solicitation of public engagement through a project-specific webpage, online survey, hotline, and dedicated email account; and releasing a transportation-based “Purpose and Need” draft document on Dec. 8, 2021 for which comments were due by Feb. 7, 2022.
The National Park Service lists the 467-foot-long, single-lane, ornamental steel bridge with a wooden plank deck as a contributing Cultural element to the Outstandingly Remarkable Values for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River for being the oldest intact example of a two-span American Bridge Company pin-connected Baltimore Truss bridge in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Continuing with capital projects, the Commission approved funds for two bridge painting projects that will share a December 15, 2022 date to be awarded under a regional contract.
As the $7,067,088 deck replacement on the 1953 Cochecton, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge progresses, an additional $2,047,174 was approved to paint the structure that will be acquiring new approaches, sidewalk, railing, and a pedestrian fence.
The first phase of the deck installation which began during the 2021 construction season was recently completed, and the contractor is now preparing to switch sides. While the original contract was due to expire on Oct. 31, NYS DOT Assistant Regional Bridge Maintenance Engineer Mike Ford reported that it will remain under construction “for the rest of the year.”
The 1937 Hancock, NY-Buckingham, PA Bridge received a $1,993,982 allocation to undergo a repainting in 2023.
Lastly for capital projects, the Commission approved $400,000 to analyze re-decking options for future rehabilitation of the 1939 Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge. Consultants are looking into replacing the open grid system with a concrete deck.
The Commission, chaired by PennDOT Engineering District 4 Executive Richard N. Roman, also reviewed illustrated findings from the annual inspections of the 10 bridges that took place on April 15 by PennDOT and April 25 by NYS DOT crews.
Having spent $101,528 for maintenance last year, they budgeted $123,000 for 2022-23, which covers work on structures, approaches, and for snow & ice control. The largest shares will go toward Callicoon-Damascus ($53,000) and Port Jervis-Matamoras ($25,000). A total of $4,000 was earmarked to “maintain the closure” of the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge.
The other five Upper Delaware River bridges that the interstate commission oversees are: Pond Eddy, NY-Pond Eddy, PA (newly built in 2018); Barryville, NY-Shohola, PA (newly built in 2006); Narrowsburg, NY-Darbytown, PA (original 1953 with a 2018 rehabilitation); Kellams, NY-Stalker, PA (original 1890 with a 1990 re-build and 2018 rehabilitation); and Lordville, NY-Buckingham, PA (built in 1992).