The Ninth Street Bridge (Route 902) which intersects with Route 443 in Lehighton is slated for repairs next spring, says PennDOT.

Thomas W. Rogal, PennDOT's district maintenance manager, told borough manager Nicole Beckett that the bridge "is a high priority for the department to make repairs necessary to remove the current traffic restrictions."

Beckett gave an update on the bridge last night during a meeting of Lehighton Borough Council.

The three-lane bridge was reduced to two lanes this past spring with barriers placed on the east and west sides of the span along the railings. The barriers block the pedestrian walkway on the west side of the bridge.

Rogal told Beckett in an email, "We had fully intended to make the repairs this season but have encountered some unforeseen issues. The first was the weight restriction added to the bridge in Palmerton Borough. This project required the removal and replacement of 21 steel beams. This project was completed last Saturday."

He explained to Beckett, "The problem with the Ninth Street project is that the dead men needed to hold the wings from further rotation protrude onto the roadway. This would require the use of steel plates to cover the excavated areas and with the threat of winter weather a possibility it is unlikely we will make the repairs this year."

He adds, "We will make the repairs next spring along with repaving the intersection to alleviate the depression in the roadway."

Earlier this year, an inspection of the bridge determined there was some rotational movement of the two wing walls on the southern abutment (Route 443) side of the bridge.

In May, PennDOT said plans were being developed to install concrete bracing to prevent further movement of the wing walls, and had anticipated doing the repairs before the end of the year.

Then in October, PennDOT announced its schedule didn't allow for those repairs to occur any more this year.

Lehighton Borough Council President Grant Hunsicker and Councilman Scott Rehrig expressed concern that a dip in the bridge is intensifying and were concerned about the safety of the span. The bridge is heavily traveled not only by cars, but by trucks and school buses.

PennDOT has no weight limit placed on the bridge and the only restrictions are the barriers preventing vehicles from traveling on the outer side perimeters.