Nine houses being demolished for new bridge
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS An excavator, operated by Dick Oswald of Tamaqua for NIMARIS Construction, is used to clear rubble following the demolition of 103 North St. in Jim Thorpe.
Nine houses are in various stages of demolition in preparation for a new bridge to be built across the Lehigh River linking SR209 on the west side of Jim Thorpe to SR903 in East Jim Thorpe.
On Tuesday, August 13, 26 W. Front St., the beige two and a half story double former residence of Barry Frohnheiser, that once served as a VFW building, was razed.
On Thursday, August 15, a white two-story single family home, the former residence of John Bilsak, was taken down.
These demolitions were performed by NIMARIS construction of Bath. The cost of the demolition is $89,093.
For the new SR903 Bridge Project, "There are nine full property acquisitions, and 15 partial property acquisitions, for a total of 24 affected properties," explained Ron Young, District Press Officer for PennDOT Engineering District 5.
"Of the nine full acquisitions, seven owners reached an agreement of sale with the state and two owners rejected the state's offer so those two properties went through the condemnation process," he noted. "Of the 15 partial property acquisitions, seven went through the condemnation process.
"Two of the nine total acquisitions were demolished in February, and three are being demolished this week. The remaining will be demolished during the bridge construction contract."
According a NIMARIS representative, the final phase of building demolition is scheduled for November.
"It was necessary to acquire the properties to construct the new bridge," Young continued. "The new bridge is being built on a new alignment. "
The new bridge's location is 810 feet north of the current bridge.
While it will improve access to traffic from SR903 by eliminating a "T" intersection at the base of a hill, local pedestrians in downtown Jim Thorpe will be required to walk more than double the distance to get to the Jim Thorpe Market.
It was last reported that the 961-foot long bridge project is being budgeted at $37 million.
The bridge will cross the Lehigh River, three Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad lines, one Norfolk Southern line, the D&L Trail, and the remains of the Packer Lock on the Upper Division of the Lehigh Canal, where a historic dam and turbine once provided electricity to Mauch Chunk's turn of the 1900s trolley system.