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Historic bridge replacement costly

The historic truss bridge over Wangum Creek at Wangum Falls in Paupack Township is closed and will be replaced.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
June 25, 2014

HONESDALE, PA — Because of its historic past, the cost of replacing the Wangum Falls Road bridge is increasing.

The road connects Hoadley’s Road and the Owego Turnpike in Paupack Township and has been closed pending replacement of the bridge over the spectacular falls on Middle Creek.

The project has been underway since 2004, when the Alfred Benesch & Co. was contracted by Wayne County for the state bond-funded replacement, then estimated at $1.4 million.

In 2008, preservationists placed the 111-year-old bridge on a statewide “at risk” list of historic sites. The bridge site and road use the former bed of the gravity railroad, which carried Pennsylvania Coal Co. loads to Hawley between 1850 and 1885.

County engineer Steve Knash came before the county commissioners on June 12, seeking supplementary funding of $115,000 for the Benesch contract.

The new funding, prompted by a PA Museum Commission review, will require creation of materials on the gravity railroad for inclusion in the summer curriculum of nearby Camp Watonka, and erection of a museum commission marker for the site.

Knash said the PennDOT requirement that new materials be created will also prompt the letting of a new bid requesting accessory work, which “will duplicate environmental and historical studies even though we already know what we want,” Knash said.

However, the new bidding will not delay design work on the project, he said. Bid openings of designs for the replacement, which will be a modern version of the existing steel truss, are expected in July or August.

Commissioner Wendell Kay said the state requirement was “typical of PennDOT. Working with them is like pulling teeth.”

The commissioners approved the supplemental funding request.