River council supports new bridge at Pond Eddy

By CHARLIE BUTERBAUGH

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) last weekvoiced support for the construction of a new bridge at Pond Eddy with a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Over the past three years residents and groups have challenged the project, preferring a rehabilitation of the existing bridge. Built by the Oswego Bridge Company in 1904, the “Pennsylvania truss” bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Pennsylvania and New York State Registers.

In June, the engineering firm Hatch Mott MacDonald Inc., of Millburn, NJ estimated the cost of the new bridge construction at $6.16 million. According to the firm, a rehabilitation of the existing bridge would cost between $8 and $10 million and extend its life expectancy by 15 years at the most.

In its letter the UDC agreed with the engineers, who recommended building a new bridge based on cost efficiency, life expectancy and a statement by Tom Jaworski of Hatch Mott MacDonald that crews would need to alter the bridge’s historic appearance and build a $2.6 million temporary detour bridge in order to complete the rehabilitation.

The UDC’s letter requested PennDOT’s approval of the new bridge construction based on “public safety, sound financial investment and sustainability.” The aging bridge’s eight-ton weight limit is not adequate for most emergency vehicle and service trucks.

The Shohola Township Supervisors have supported the new bridge construction project. But on the New York side of the interstate bridge, the Lumberland Town Board is not yet convinced.

“Right now the jury is still out,” Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci said. He added that the impacts on water flows and habitat in the Upper Delaware River caused by building a new bridge have yet to be studied, and that his board would probably not voice an opinion until any negative impacts are disclosed.

UDC backs protection of Upper Delaware coldwater fishery

The UDC also sent a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, requesting that both state conservation boards consider prohibiting anglers from fishing for trout in the main stem of the Upper Delaware River, where water temperatures have recently been found to exceed 75 degrees. The high temperatures, combined with low flows, have prompted the fish to seek limited thermal refuges or to migrate to the river’s west branch for relief.

The DEC has established a special fishing regulation on the world-famous Beaver Kill, from Iron Bridge at Horton downstream to the first Route 17 overpass, which prohibits fishing from July 1 through August 31 to protect the thermally stressed trout.

TRR photo by Charlie Buterbaugh
Dennis DeMara, second from left, a northeastern Pennsylvania park supervisor for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), presented a framed certificate to the Upper Delaware Council on August 4, recognizing the successful nomination of the Pike County portion of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Watershed to the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation Registry. Pictured from the left are Nelia Wall, Shohola Township UDC alternate; DeMara; John McKay, 2005 UDC chairperson and Lackawaxen Township representative; and Alan Bowers, Westfall Township representative. The UDC submitted a petition to the DCNR’s Harrisburg headquarters in December 2002 on behalf of its three Pike County member townships—Shohola, Lackawaxen, and Westfall—after each township passed a resolution supporting the action. Inclusion on the registry brings statewide recognition to rivers or river segments in communities that have completed river conservation plans. (Click for larger version)