Finally some physical activity is occurring on the long-awaited, inner-borough bridge replacement project in Jim Thorpe.
Employees of Applied Geoscience & Engineering, Reading, have been boring for the past three weeks at potential sites for the piers of the new Route 903 bridge.
Yesterday, the boring was being done a short distance from the Reading and Northern Railroad tracks, about 80 feet north of the existing span.
Keith Berry, of Applied Geoscience, said the bridge will be built 800 feet from the existing two-lane span.
State Rep. Doyle Heffley, who visited the boring site yesterday, said if the boring reveals no rock or soil complications, the construction project could possibly begin in 2014.
He said he has been constantly in touch with PennDOT and according to officials there, "2013 is the release date for some of the funding, so construction could begin in early 2014."
He said of the Jim Thorpe project, as well as the repair project at the Thomas J. McCall Bridge in Weissport, which is slated for a major overhaul, "I'm very anxious to see these construction projects moving forward. It's good for the community and public safety."
Heffley said the progress of the Jim Thorpe project "depends on what they find here" at the boring sites.
Berry explained that although there will be three piers, about 10 different boring holes have to be dug. He said at specified intervals the boring must stop so that the soil and the rock can be analyzed. Among the specific information obtained is the depth of the rock, soil conditions, and rock conditions.
Such data will assist with designing the foundation for the bridge, as well as to determine the type of foundation.
"It's a long project," admitted Heffley. "I'll be happy as it moves forward as will the residents of Jim Thorpe borough."
The bridge project has been in the engineering phase for several years.
It was noted that during the construction phase, no detour is anticipated for traffic traveling over the Lehigh River between the former Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk.
PennDOT's website said the project is still in the engineering stage and the construction date won't be known until this part of the project is completed.
Heffley said the money has been allocated for the project so he's optimistic it is moving forward.