The Route 903 bridge project in Jim Thorpe is underway.

Construction crews from Allan A. Myers LP of Worcester, who was awarded the $28 million contract earlier this year, have been busy over the past month preparing the area where the new bridge will be constructed.

Over the next three years, motorists and Jim Thorpe residents will see a flurry of activity as the bridge is built, the road redesigned and the old structure demolished. The project is expected to be completed by July 2017.

About the project

Ronald Young, district press officer for PennDOT Engineering District 5, explained earlier this month that the bridge will be located approximately 940 feet upstream from the current bridge.

It will be a 961-foot long by 57-foot, 8-inch wide four-span continuous steel plate girder bridge that spans over the Lehigh River, Lehigh Canal and Reading Blue Mountain and Northern and Norfolk Southern railroad lines, and will include a new signalized intersection at the relocated PA Route 903 and US Route 209.

Route 209 between Liberty and Packer Hill roads will be widened, retaining walls will be built and a new four-way intersection on the east side of Jim Thorpe will be created along North and Second streets, where the bridge will connect. Motorists will not experience long-term traffic delays during the construction because the current bridge will remain open while the new bridge is constructed. There will be some short-term lane restrictions on 209 or 903 for roadway work, but when those delays will occur will be announced at a later time.

To make room for construction, the Carbon County commissioners have leased the land under the current bridge and in the overflow parking lot to PennDOT for $301,599. The county also moved the ticket booth to accommodate the large equipment and beams coming onto thesite.

About the old bridge

Young said recently that the current 903 bridge, formally known as the PA 903 Jim Thorpe Memorial Bridge, was constructed in 1953 and rehabilitated in 1976.

It is a 613-foot long by 27-foot wide five-span steel girder bridge, and has approximately 9,681 vehicles travel across it daily.

In recent years, PennDOT has noted that the structure has been deteriorating and is "fracture critical," as reported by Carbon County Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard last week.