There's an important meeting Thursday night in Franklin Township. It's not only important to township residents, but for anyone who commutes regularly and uses the Thomas J. McCall Memorial Bridge, which spans Weissport, or who has children travel over the bridge regularly on a school bus.

On Thursday, at 7 p.m., a meeting for the public will be held at the Franklin Township Fire Company regarding what is being proposed for improving the bridge.

PennDOT says it will exhibit the proposed project plans, explain details of the project, and entertain public input.

PennDOT and its design consultant, Wilbur Smith Associates, will present and discuss the project objectives and the proposed improvements to Route 209.

For those unaware, the McCall bridge named after a former state representative has been a source of concern for a number of years for PennDOT, as well as state and local officials.

On Aug. 1, 2007, a bridge collapsed in Minnesota which resulted in 14 deaths. It was determined that the McCall bridge has the same type of truss that the Minnesota bridge had.

After the Minnesota incident, a study was done on all bridges in the state. The McCall bridge was ranked PennDOT's fifth worst deck truss bridge in the state.

With a scoring scale of 100, the McCall bridge accumulated only 29 points.

Inspections have concluded that the bridge is presently safe. Still, it's very obvious the three-lane span needs quick attention.

It's going to be interesting to hear what PennDOT has in store for the bridge.

Regardless of what PennDOT says, don't expect a major improvement for a number of years no matter how serious the problems might be.

Just ask Jim Thorpe residents who have been promised a replacement of the interborough bridge for a long time.

Between planning, acquisitions, and obtaining funding, it takes years for any major bridge improvement project to occur.

Hopefully, PennDOT comes up with a solution for improving the bridge which will happen in a timely manner.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com