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New Pond Eddy Bridge Moving Closer to Reality

DUNMORE – The New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission on May 19 approved nearly $47 million in capital projects for six bridges crossing the Delaware River, but acknowledged a current budget shortfall of over $35 million to advance that work plan.

Transportation funding limitations at the federal and state level continue to emphasize bridge repairs over replacements, according to the regional directors of the two Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies, Jack Williams for NY Region 9 and George Roberts for PA District 4-0.

Representatives from the Upper Delaware Council, Inc. and National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River attended the Commission’s annual meeting in Dunmore, PA to hear about the inspection results, maintenance schedules, and construction plans for the 10 NY-PA bridges under the Commission’s purview.

The 1904 Pond Eddy, NY-Pond Eddy, PA Bridge was downposted from seven tons to four tons on December 17, 2010 following a routine inspection.
Emergency repairs to 64 steel stringer beams located under the 504-foot bridge’s wooden deck began in mid-April and are expected to finish by June. Completion of that approximately $600,000 contract will enable restoration of the 7-ton weight limit.

The single-lane bridge that provides the only crossing from New York Stat
e Route 97 to 26 private homes, State Game Lands, and Delaware State Forest property on the PA side has been closed weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m. to enable the work to proceed.

Last year, contractors completed a $249,573 repair job at the Pond Eddy Bridge to replace missing stones on the pier nose and address issues with underpinnings and steel plates. DOT officials continue to cite the need for a new bridge to replace the aging structure, where the low posting restricts access by most service and emergency vehicles. Since 1994, some $3 million has been invested in preliminary engineering and design.

The recommendation from the study of alternatives is to build a two-lane concrete structure, with architectural embellishments suggested by a local Design Advisory Committee, which would increase the load capacity to 36 tons and carry a life expectancy of 75-100 years.

The plan to raze the current bridge raised objections by preservation-oriented groups on the basis of the structure’s 1988 listings on the National, Pennsylvania, and New York State Registers of Historic Places and its aesthetic value to the Upper Delaware River Valley.

However, consulting engineers have warned that leaving the bridge in place could create backwater flooding from having too many piers in the river. They discounted the viability of rehabilitation over replacement since it would reportedly cost more for construction and annual maintenance, take twice as long to accomplish, fail to achieve modern standards, and require an alteration of the bridge’s historic appearance.

While PennDOT, NY DOT, the Town of Lumberland, Shohola Township, and petition-signing members of the Pond Eddy Homeowners’ Association were among the supporters of a new bridge for safety concerns, advancement stalled when the New York State Historic Preservation Office opted to withdraw from the Section 106 review process required for this property under the National Historic Preservation Act.

PennDOT sought arbitration on the impasse in 2006 from the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in Washington, D.C. Debbie Noone, assistant district executive for design with PennDOT District 4-0, reported to the Bridge Commission that the New York agency has recently reconsidered its position and will now consider signing on to the Memorandum of Agreement.

“There has been some good cooperation with the New York State Historic Preservation Office and we’re pleased with that progress. We hope to get the documentation finalized and move through the environmental clearance process,” Noone said. Further, New York State is in the process of adding its 50% share of the estimated $9.5 million construction cost to its transportation funding budget for FY 2012.

The schedule of proposed projects approved by the Commission anticipates that a design-build contract for the Pond Eddy Bridge could be let in 2012, with construction occurring in 2013.

Monthly teleconferences continue to take place for the state agencies and consulting parties involved in the Pond Eddy Bridge project.

The $3,242,000 major rehabilitation of the 1939 Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge that began in the spring of 2010 is “almost completed”, engineers reported. Partially subsidized the federal stimulus funds, repairs have been made to the bridge’s abutment back walls, steel members, and pier expansion dam, and the floor beam system members are being painted.

A contract to paint the entire bridge at a projected cost of $3.4 million is earmarked for 2015. Other capital projects that are being deferred by virtue of their presence in the “unfunded” column include:

Narrowsburg, NY-Darbytown, PA Bridge (1954): replacement of deck, sidewalks, and painting in 2014 at a cost of $3,492,000;

Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville, PA Bridge (1901): truss and abutment repairs in 2012 at a cost of $604,000, and a major rehabilitation of the same bridge in 2015 at a cost of $8 million;

Cochecton, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge (1952): replacement of the asphalt wearing surface and patching on the deck’s underside in 2015 at a cost of $4.4 million;

Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge (1961): installation of some pre-cast panels, localized deck repairs, replacement of the bridge rail, and paving of the entire deck in 2014 at a cost of $6.05 million, and consideration of alternatives for the same bridge’s substructure in 2017 for an additional $4.4 million.

No capital projects are currently identified for the Barryville, NY-Shohola, PA Bridge (2006); Kellams, NY-Stalker, PA Bridge (1990); Lordville, NY-Equinunk, PA Bridge (1992); or Hancock, NY-Buckingham, PA Bridge (1937).

Other reports delivered at the Interstate Bridge Commission meeting included:

  • A summary of work completed on each of the bridge structures and approaches in 2010-11;
  • General Maintenance Fund expenditures of $414,778 from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011;
  • An illustrated presentation of findings from the annual inspection of the 10 bridges conducted on April 19, 2011; and
  • General Maintenance Fund expenditures estimated for the current fiscal year of April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012 in the amount of $280,300.

Maintenance costs include all work done on the bridge structures, approaches, and expenditures for snow and ice control, and are shared equally by NY and PA.