Work to begin on unfinished portion of D&L bridge in Jim Thorpe
Work is set to ramp up again on an unfinished portion of a Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor pedestrian bridge in Jim Thorpe.
The physical Mansion House Bridge, spanning the Lehigh River, was completed last year, but a retaining wall reinforced ramp taking the D&L trail around Jim Thorpe’s wastewater treatment plant remains as the final piece to the puzzle.
“We’re happy to announce we now have a construction schedule for the second phase of the project,” D&L officials including Elissa Garofalo, executive director, said in a statement released earlier this week. “If all goes according to plan, construction may wrap up as early as June 30.”
Last August, Jim Thorpe Borough officials announced the municipality had secured the more than half-million dollars needed to finish the pedestrian bridge on behalf of the D&L. The added money includes $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the form of a grant amendment, and $65,286 in a hotel tax funds disbursement from the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau.
Since that point, contractor Don E. Bower has been working with Jim Thorpe and D&L staff on two steps including getting approval to cross the railroad tracks.
“In order for work to happen safely, the construction traffic must be coordinated with the railroad traffic,” D&L officials said.
Second is to coordinate the production of the retaining wall panels.
“The review process for these was long because they are being made with the same pattern as the abutment supporting the pedestrian bridge,” according to D&L’s statement. “This pattern was custom made just for these projects, designed to mimic the stonework found on the adjacent canal lock walls. Production time for the panels takes about 12 weeks from the approval of the sample panel, meaning the panels should be ready for delivery at the end of March from the manufacturer in Kutztown.”
The bridge is a 200-foot through-truss bridge built in Alabama with American steel.
It will create a 57-mile continuous stretch from Glen Summit, Luzerne County, to Cementon, Lehigh County.
The bridge opened briefly for a first crossing and dedication ceremony in June before closing again several hours later, pending completion of the project.
Weather will be a key factor in a timeline as the retaining wall panels near completion.
While the deep freeze in early March kept the ground too cold to work, the recent spring thaw has allowed the contractor to start site preparation.
“Improvements will also include widening the roughly three-quarter-mile narrow section of trail just southward from the Mansion House Bridge,” D&L officials said.
Fencing will be put up so mark the limits of the project and people are asked to stay out of the construction area while work is taking place.