The Upper Delaware Council is calling upon the Department of Transportation to update the public on the future of the currently closed Milanville, PA-Skinners Falls, NY Bridge.
Please read our letter for more information:
March 3, 2016
George J. Roberts, District 4-0 Executive
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
55 Keystone Industrial Park
Dunmore, PA 18512-1516
RE: SR 1002 Milanville, PA-Skinners Falls, NY Bridge Closure
Dear Mr. Roberts,
On December 11, 2015, PennDOT suddenly closed the Skinners Falls Bridge with a brief press announcement stating, “There is no scheduled timeline to reopen the 114-year-old bridge.” There has been no official information since then to detail what is transpiring with regards to discussion of repair or replacement options. This indefinite situation is unacceptable.
Municipal leaders, community residents, local business owners, and the traveling public are entitled to an explanation of the timetable and issues involved in deciding this bridge’s fate. We respectfully urge PennDOT to schedule a public meeting to offer an update.
Subsequent media reports elaborated that the bridge had most recently failed inspection due to damaged stringers presumably caused by ongoing traffic on the steel truss, timber plank, single-lane bridge built in 1901. This represents at least the third time in recent years that the bridge was closed temporarily for repairs in January 2010 and then from Dec. 15, 2012 to May 20, 2013.
Plans to address the bridge’s condition have been confusing and inconsistent. In 2012, the New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission approved a capital projects budget that would initiate preliminary engineering that year for a major, $8.5 million rehabilitation of the Milanville-Skinners Falls Bridge earmarked for 2017. The next year, the Commission approved an expenditure of $389,200 for the 2012-13 repairs to stringers and floor beams, and earmarked $1,364,000 to do preliminary engineering and final design for rehabilitation, without providing a timetable for the work. A total of $480,000 was approved for preliminary engineering in 2014. At the Commission’s last annual meeting on May 13, 2015, a $400,000 allocation was approved to subsidize the ongoing preliminary engineering, studies, and final design for rehabilitation. It was stated that the contract is due to be advertised on Jan. 5, 2017 and awarded on Feb. 9, 2017.
In July of 2013, the Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) was invited to become a Consulting Party for Section 106, the federal process required for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We submitted comments on the Area of Potential Effect document (ER 2013-8011-127) that had been prepared in anticipation of PennDOT undertaking “a full rehabilitation of the existing truss bridge,” according to the project description.
However, we never received any additional information about it or any direct notice of the bridge’s most recent closure, instead only learning about it from a newspaper reporter.
Convening a public meeting is vital to confirm and clarify the long-range plans.
As you may know, there is currently an online petition drive underway that speaks to this closure’s adverse impacts that will be exacerbated the longer it continues. Although the Skinners Falls Bridge has been restricted from heavy loads for decades, it still sees its share of commercial and residential traffic in terms of people going to work, light service trucks, shopping, day care, church, and supporting the local tourism trade. Furthermore, emergencies have no respect for political boundaries, even if it is across a river. The first response for fire service along the Pennsylvania side comes from New York State. Even though fire trucks may not cross the bridge, most volunteers report directly to the scene from home or work, responses that are now delayed.
With the anticipated Spring 2017-Fall 2018 rehabilitation of the currently single-lane Narrowsburg Bridge which is being utilized as a detour route, there will be additional restrictions to interstate traffic. All the issues mentioned above will be magnified and worsened if the Skinners Falls Bridge is not reopened prior to the rehabilitation of the Narrowsburg Bridge.
Our organization would be happy to facilitate PennDOT’s arrangements for a public meeting. Please contact UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie at P.O. Box 192, Narrowsburg, NY 12764, (845) 252-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org for that purpose and to share any future updates about the Milanville, PA-Skinners Falls, NY Bridge with our bi-state constituency.
Cc: Joseph Canfield, Damascus Township Board of Supervisors Chairman
Gary Maas, Town of Cochecton Supervisor
Brian Smith, Wayne County Commissioners Chairman
PA Senator Lisa Baker, 20th District
NYS Senator John J. Bonacic, 42nd District
PA Representative Mike Peifer, 139th District
NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, 100th District
Kristina Heister, NPS Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Superintendent
Carla Hahn, NPS Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Management Assistant
Kristina Thompson, Cultural Resources Professional, PennDOT Districts 4-0 and 5-0
Susan Hazelton, PennDOT Assistant District Executive for Design
James May, PennDOT District Press Officer
Jack Williams, NYS DOT Region 9 Regional Director
Dave MacEwan, NYS DOT Regional Planning Office Local Programs Liaison
Rick Lander, Lander’s River Trips
Rocco and Vanessa DeGori, Milanville General Store
Mary Lou Lothian, Lou’s Tubes