Lanes are changed as bridge work advances
LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Work Crews on the McCall bridge were busy Wednesday setting up a new traffic pattern with the completion of a portion of the new deck.
Lanes have been switched on the Route 209 Thomas J. McCall Memorial Bridge so workers can continue to replace the bridge surface.
The new traffic pattern is the latest change as the renovation continues on the structurally deficient bridge that spans the Lehigh River and Weissport and separates Routes 248 and 443.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation press officer Sean Brown said motorists will still be dealing with a lane closure in the one direction.
"(It means) the crews are making progress, moving traffic over to the other side," Brown said.
The $11.8 million project includes replacing the bridge surface with a latex product that will repel water for a longer life, according to Calvin Ulshafer, PennDOT construction manager.
Ulshafer said the current surface continues to be taken off with a hydro-demolition method, using high-velocity water jets to remove deteriorated concrete.
Bridge deck joints are being removed and replaced, with walls being replaced on both bridge abutments.
The fourth pier from the east/Weissport side will be removed and replaced. The 14th and 15th piers from the east/Weissport side will have diaphragms removed and replaced. The bridge has a total of 15 piers.
The 16-span, steel deck truss bridge was originally constructed in 1938 and reconstructed in 1981. It is 1,539 feet long and 42 feet wide.
Emergency personnel vehicles
As part of the renovation, southbound traffic is detoured on Canal and Bridge streets, while the bridge is open to a single traffic lane northbound, allowing drivers to travel toward the turnpike.
On the surface, such a detour would seem to present a challenge to emergency response vehicles such as ambulances and firetrucks.
However, the traffic pattern doesn't appear to have interfered with emergency response time, according to Carbon County 911 director Gary Williams.
"I haven't heard any complaints from any emergency responders. It doesn't seem there's delays from them getting to scenes," Williams said. "I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary."
Brown said there are several lights throughout the project that have pre-emption devices that some emergency response vehicles can activate to get through congested traffic.
Brown said in the event an ambulance was stuck in traffic, they could hit the device and move through traffic to get through any congestion when going to an emergency.
The project remains on schedule for completion in September, Brown said.