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Walnutport bridge closes today; official wants school bus passage

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    The Main Street Bridge in Slatington and Walnutport is scheduled to close Tuesday for deck replacement. The closure is expected to last until mid-October. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published August 14. 2018 02:12PM

A Walnutport borough official said he believes school buses should be allowed to travel over the Main Street Bridge while it’s shut down for repairs.

Starting Wednesday, the bridge over the Lehigh River that connects Walnutport and Slatington will be closed for deck replacement, as the deck has been rated as poor.

Although the bridge will be closed to vehicles, plans have been made so that emergency medical services will still be able to use it.

However, Councilman David Stankovic said at Thursday’s borough council meeting that he believes the main means that students are transported to school by should be allowed to access the bridge.

“I think school buses should be able to go over the bridge,” Stankovic said.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Ron Young said allowing school buses to go over the bridge while repairs are underway was determined to be unsafe.

“We met with the school district, and it just wouldn’t be safe for school buses to go through,” Young said. “It was just technically not possible, unfortunately.”

The closure of the bridge was originally slated for Aug. 7, but that date was pushed back due to the contractor’s schedule.

It will be replaced with a 48.5-foot-wide, 419-foot-long deck. The deck is originally from 1969.

Once the project gets underway, Main Street will be closed and detoured between Route 873/Walnut Street in Slatington and Railroad Street in Walnutport.

Traffic will be detoured on Route 873 (North Walnut Street), Route 145 (Riverview Drive/North Best Avenue), and Route 248 (POW/MIA Remembrance Highway).

Pedestrian access will be maintained on the bridge during the deck replacement.

Once the detour is in place, Penn­DOT will monitor traffic signals and adjust them if they see things aren’t working smoothly.

The deck replacement project will have an impact on student transportation, according to Northern Lehigh School District Superintendent Matthew Link.

Link previously said about 18 district vehicles, buses, minibuses and vans will have to use the detour through the Lehigh Gap, which will add travel time to each of those runs in the morning and afternoon. Some buses will add more than an hour travel time, cumulatively, he said.

The bridge is estimated to be opened in October.

This section of Main Street has an average daily traffic volume of 10,015 vehicles.

The Main Street Bridge is one of four in the Lehigh Valley being repaired under a $2.5 million contract.

Work on the bridges include repairing steel, decks, beams, bearings, joints and scouring countermeasures for the bridges over waterways.

The general contractor to repair the bridges is H&K Group of Skippack, Montgomery County.

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