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Resignation letter to the Pond Eddy Design Advisory Committee

By Glenn Pontier
March 29, 2012

With local, state and national officials all calling for a reexamination of the decision to remove the historic Pond Eddy Bridge, I am resigning from the PennDOT-sponsored Design Advisory Committee as the designated representative of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) Advisory Board.

It is the belief of the UDSB Advisory Board that the existing bridge should be retained and brought back to its original design load of 15-18 tons. The UDSB Advisory Board has asked that the Interstate Bridge Commission reopen the study of this bridge, and consider alternative methods of providing access to Pond Eddy, Pennsylvania.

Previous studies did not contain accurate information about alternatives, and never provided a true cost comparison. It is clear that the firm leading the design exercise for PennDOT did not allow bridge restoration to be part of a comprehensive or comparative discussion.

In fact many issues that relate to a new bridge were not allowed as part of the discussion. These include:

• Decrease in clearance between bridge structure and water level. All of the proposed new designs lower the structure relative to the river water level in comparison to the existing bridge.

• Permanent disruption in river flow. Designs that add additional piers increase the possibility of flooding hazards. PennDOT argues that additional piers would enhance the river flow based on its assertion that the existing pier is in the middle of the deepest river channel section, and the new piers would be smaller and on either side. Visual inspection indicates that the existing pier and the river bed would have to be removed in order to assure that the mid-channel is deepest.

• Temporary disruption in river flow #1. PennDOT indicated that bridge replacement construction can only be accomplished by building a “causeway” across the river, so that during the period of construction for the new structure heavy equipment can have the access… A causeway will result in a one- or two-year disruption in the recreational use of the river. This will be devastating to the rafting and fishing industries—and have an adverse effect on migratory and other fish species….