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McCall Bridge rehabilitation

  • Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Local residents look over the scale drawings of the proposed rehabilitation of the Route 209 McCall bridge. Thirty officials and approximately 50 residents spoke with PennDOT officials about the scale of the project at…
    Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Local residents look over the scale drawings of the proposed rehabilitation of the Route 209 McCall bridge. Thirty officials and approximately 50 residents spoke with PennDOT officials about the scale of the project at meetings held Thursday night at the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Co.
Published January 07. 2012 09:02AM

Rehabilitation of the Route 209 Thomas McCall Memorial Bridge, which spans Weissport borough, likely won't occur until 2014 and will involve a complex detour route.

No houses will be acquired for the rehab work.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation displayed plans Thursday at Franklin Township Fire Co. on the rehabilitation of the bridge, with about 30 local officials and about 50 members of the public in attendance. Six PennDOT engineers and other agency representatives explained the project and fielded questions.

PennDOT had two diagrams on display; one outlining the plans for the bridge's rehabilitation and the second showing a proposed short-term traffic control plan that will impact Weissport in a big way.

Among the officials attending were Sen. John Yudichak, state Rep. Doyle Heffley, Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein and Tom Gerhard; and members of Lehighton Borough Council, Weissport Borough Council, Jim Thorpe Borough Council, Franklin Township supervisors, and other surrounding communities.

Lehighton officials indicated they would like to see the bridge replaced, with borough council President Grant Hunsicker stating that rehabilitation of it was "like putting a Band Aid on a broken leg."

Rehrig said he had visited the bridge at 10 a.m. that morning. He presented a piece of the bridge that he said fell while he was underneath it.

While some of the officials were incensed that the plans call for a $10-million to $11-million rehabilitation instead of a more expensive replacement and enlargement of the bridge, the public segment was a little more low key.

PennDOT official Jay McGee said the agency does not have the $50-million or more it would take to replace the bridge. He said that a proposed latex concrete overlay will last for 20 to 25 years before it wears out and needs to be replaced.

Ronald J. Young, M.P.A., transportation community relations coordinator, said that the issue of traffic volume was not the reason for the bridge's rehabilitation, but the condition of the bridge itself spurred this project forward.

The project involves a structural rehabilitation of the 16 span structure, which carries Route 209 traffic across the Lehigh River, Lehigh Canal, Norfolk Southern Railroad and other local roads. The bridge is deemed structurally deficient and has an overall rating of 30 out of 100.

The purpose of the project is to remove the bridge from the list of structurally-deficient bridges, keep it from needing to be weight restricted, and extend the service life.

The structural rehabilitation is anticipated to include:

Deck repairs:

• New latex modified concrete overlay on the existing deck.

• New integral approach slabs at each end of the bridge.

• Replace all 17 deck joints.

• Place new protective fence along both barriers.

• Replace existing drainage scuppers and install new downspout systems.

Superstructure repairs:

• Clean and repaint the entire superstructure.

• Stiffen gusset plates in the truss spans.

• Add floorbeam cover plates and girder stiffeners to increase capacity.

Substructure repairs:

• Replace/rehabilitate bearings

• Repair deteriorated concrete on piers and abutments

• Reconstruct pier 4

• Place scout protection at piers 2 and 3.

Young said that bridge project is expected to be put out for bid in 2013 and by the end of 2013, the bid should be accepted and work should begin in early 2014.

Young said that the latex overlay will protect the bridge from water for a long time.

"We all know that water, especially salt and water rusts metal," he added.

Young noted that there will be detours and a new traffic pattern in the vicinity of the bridge during the rehabilitation period.

"It's either rehabilitate the bridge or put weight restrictions on it, which would mean no trucks and no fire trucks would be able to cross the bridge," said Young. "We don't want to do that because it would impact businesses and people's livelihoods."

Young said that the temporary traffic patterns would last about three to four months.

During the three to four months that the new traffic patterns will be in effect, Weissport traffic on Bridge Street will be one way for the entire two lanes.

The Route 209 bridge is a principal arterial roadway in an urban area and carries 23,000 vehicles a day through the project area. The existing bridge accommodates two 11-foot by six-inch lanes of traffic and an additional 11-foot "left turn lane" at each end. The bridge also carries a five-foot, two-inch sidewalk on the north side.

Young noted the sidewalk would remain open during the rehabilitation project.

The curb-to-curb width of the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate two-directional traffic during the deck repair construction. Therefore, one lane of Route 209 northbound traffic will be maintained on the bridge while the southbound traffic will be detoured on Canal Street, through Weissport on Bridge Street and onto Bankway Street.

Young noted that temporary traffic lights will be installed at the intersection of Bankway and Bridge Street at the Lehighton end of the Weissport/Lehighton bridge to help with traffic flow.

Because the project anticipates that Weissport will have two lanes of traffic flowing through Weissport during the three to four months of the anticipated project, Weissport officials were very concerned that Weissport residents will not be able to access Bridge Street.

"I've asked PennDOT to consider putting up a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Bridge Street and White Street.

David Marchese, PennDOT official, said that a temporary traffic signal would not be a problem.

"They are not expensive and they would be set to only operate when triggered by traffic," he said.

Gene Kershner, Weissport Council president, said that he had been around for the first rehabilitation of the McCall bridge and he said it is a necessary inconvenience.

"The locals pretty much worked with it the last time," he said. "They used alternate roads when possible and it really wasn't all that bad. Of course, there will be more traffic this time."

Sue Pywar, Weissport council vice president, said, "I am relieved that they are not taking anyone's homes in Weissport. We need all the tax revenue we can get. Weissport can't afford to lose any revenue."

The McCall Bridge, built in 1938 and was last rehabilitated in 1981.

In 2007 during a routine inspection, the bridge was given the fifth worst score of all state-owned deck truss highway bridges.

The McCall bridge was named after Keith McCall's father who died on Christmas Eve in 1981 of a heart attack. At the time, Thomas J. McCall was a state representative. Through Thomas McCall's efforts, the deck of the bridge was replaced in 1981.

The McCall bridge has the same type of deck truss construction as the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, resulting in 14 deaths.

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