A repaired bridge at last?

Callicoon-Damascus Bridge ready for $18M rehab

Posted 5/23/23

RIVER VALLEY — The New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission approved a major rehabilitation of the 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge to begin this fall, and earmarked …

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A repaired bridge at last?

Callicoon-Damascus Bridge ready for $18M rehab


RIVER VALLEY — The New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission approved a major rehabilitation of the 1961 Callicoon, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge to begin this fall, and earmarked another $1 million-plus to continue studying alternatives for the closed 1902 Skinners Falls, NY-Milanville, PA Bridge at its annual meeting.

The commission met May 10 to review inspection reports and approve expenditures for capital projects and maintenance for the 10 Upper Delaware River bridges under its care.

The contract-letting for the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge is scheduled for August 24. The $18,150,000 approved cost will be shared equally by the two states. 

Construction “of at least two years” is anticipated after the contract is awarded, and the plan is to keep an alternating lane open to traffic as the work progresses. A causeway will be set up in the river to stage equipment, and will be under boater-safety plan oversight by the National Park Service (NPS) Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River unit.

In 2021, the commission had approved $2,212,000 to design Bridge #7’s engineering upgrade after finding rapidly deteriorating steel members, exposed and missing reinforcing bars on all concrete piers and abutments of the substructure, cracks and widespread potholes on the deck and roadway approaches, and the paint has reached the end of its life cycle. The timeframe announced last year to let the contract in February 2023 was delayed.

Some repairs to potholes and joint headers took place over the past season, which helped account for $21,086 out of the total $53,077 that was spent to maintain all 10 bridges along with providing snow and ice control. Commissioners allocated $52,000 out of the total $96,000 on the April 1, 2023-March 31, 2024 general maintenance schedule for the Callicoon-Damascus Bridge.

“It’s in very poor shape for the new contract coming up. We’re going to have to keep it going,” said Mike Ford, New York State Department of Transportation bridge maintenance engineer.

Downriver at Skinners

Commissioners approved $1,092,500 to continue the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study for the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge, which was shut down to all vehicular and pedestrian usage on October 16, 2019 after failing an emergency inspection.

The Federal Highway Administration, PennDOT, and NYS DOT initiated the PEL study in October 2020 to guide the decision-making process on whether to preserve the existing bridge through rehabilitation, tear it down and build a new structure, or eliminate the crossing entirely.

Results from a phase 1 Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Analysis required by the bridge’s 1988 listing on the National Register of Historic Places are due to be revealed on May 24 to the Project Advisory Committee; however, July 2024 was cited as the estimated timeframe to wrap up the PEL study.

Once the alternative, which will be subject to public comment, is determined, it could take two years to secure funding and environmental clearances for any type of construction to begin.

The commissioners had allocated $2 million in 2022; $400,000 in 2021; and $200,000 in 2020 for the PEL study and preliminary engineering.

The NPS lists the 467-foot-long, single-lane, ornamental steel bridge with a wooden plank deck as a contributing cultural element to the Outstandingly Remarkable Values for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, citing it as the oldest intact example of a two-span American Bridge Company pin-connected Baltimore Truss bridge in the United States. 

Further down in PJ

As a third capital project, the commission approved $460,000 in design work to rehabilitate the deck, preserve the trusses, replace all stringers and paint the 1939 Port Jervis, NY-Matamoras, PA Bridge #1. 

Consultants are looking into replacing the problematic open grid system with a concrete deck. That rehabilitation work is targeted for completion in March 2024.

Fixing other infrastructure

As a result of inspection deficiencies found, DOT crews or contractors also plan to:

  • do sidewalk and railing touch-ups and remove graffiti on the Port Jervis-Matamoras Bridge;
  • clean the deck, repair paint chips and sidewalk cracks, and address a slight settlement of the roadway approaches at the 2018 Pond Eddy, NY-Pond Eddy, PA Bridge #2;
  • clean, fix scrapes along the pedestrian railing and transverse cracks throughout the deck, touch up peeling paint and remove graffiti on the New York abutment at the 2006 Barryville, NY-Shohola, PA Bridge #3; 
  • address a large sidewalk crack and settling on the New York approach, deck-chipping on the PA approach, loose utility clips under the PA span, and sweep and wash the deck, joints and sidewalks of the 2018 rehabilitated Narrowsburg, NY-Darbytown, PA Bridge #4; 
  • upright a fallen bridge closure sign on Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge #5; 
  • look into potholes forming on the PA approach of the 2018 rehabilitated Kellams, NY-Stalker, PA Bridge #8 and whether a small private cabin being constructed about 20 feet from the bridge in Stalker could have any right-of-way impacts;
  • replace the New York-approach joint and repair railing pedestals on the 1992 Lordville, NY-Equinunk, PA Bridge #9; and
  • evaluate the condition of the old decorative railing on the 1937 Hancock, NY-Buckingham, PA Bridge #10 after its $1,993,982 painting job is completed in June 2023.

Almost finished

The rehabilitation of the 1953 Cochecton, NY-Damascus, PA Bridge #6 that began in 2021 and resulted in a new deck, sidewalks, railing, pedestrian fence and roadway approaches has been completed, with only a paint job remaining to do under the contract this summer.

The 49-minute annual meeting, held at the state DOT office in Binghamton and virtually, was chaired by James P. Rusak, P.E., the new regional director for NYS DOT Region 9.

Laurie Ramie is the executive director of the Upper Delaware Council, www.upperdelawarecouncil.org

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