Construction of four Upper Delaware bridges approved
NY DOT also investigated the potential to construct overland routes from four different options on the PA side to follow up on complaints that this alternative had not been fully explored.
A report dated September 12, 2012 dismissed the notion as unfeasible, finding that it would likely require building or improving 3.5 to five miles of new road through heavily forested, mountainous terrain that could conflict with the Norfolk-Southern Railroad right-of-way and cost an estimated $40 million. Total route lengths between the NY and PA sides of the river at Pond Eddy would exceed 20 miles.
PennDOT Assistant District Executive for Design Debbie Noone advised the Commission on Wednesday that as a result of those studies and discussions, an agreement has been reached among both states and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to proceed with a new bridge at a reduced scope and cost.
The new design calls for a 22-foot-wide truss bridge with a single, 14-foot lane and a six-foot sidewalk that could be converted into a second travel lane if necessary, according to a NY DOT briefing provided on April 26.
The 40-ton bridge (a load capacity required by FHWA since this crossing is the only access to Pond Eddy, PA) would have lighter-looking steelwork reminiscent of the bridge’s current curved truss appearance. The 504-foot-long, two-span bridge would be built on the same, slightly-upstream footprint as originally planned and require an approximately 15-month construction period.
Instead of a $12 million price tag, the new bridge is expected to cost $9.6 million and provide a 75-year life expectancy.
Noone stated that the Pond Eddy Bridge Design Advisory Committee of consulting parties which met three times from Dec. 2011 through March 2012 to discuss aesthetic options will be reconvened “early this summer” to hear a report on the compromise agreement and that “we will move on to final design hopefully this year.”
Audience member Pat Carullo commented that the NY-PA Joint Interstate Bridge Commission approved $3 million for the Pond Eddy Bridge’s preliminary engineering and final design phase and questioned, “How do you suddenly have a more pleasing structure when you said you couldn’t do it for the last decade?”
He also asked how the causeway will be handled that is necessary to accommodate the equipment to build the bridge, expressing concern over it potentially impeding the river’s free flow, boaters, fish, wildlife, and creating a flood risk over two recreational seasons.