By Peter Becker
Pond Eddy Bridge, the Delaware River span giving the only road access to the small Pike County hamlet of Pond Eddy, is to undergo maintenance this winter.
Sean McGuiness, Superintendent of the National Park Service, Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, said it was good news that the old bridge is being given attention. The one-lane petit truss bridge, built in 1903, is presently slated to be replaced, after much debate over the past dozen years over its fate.
McGuiness reported Thursday night Jan. 3rd at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) meeting in Narrowsburg, that PennDOT plans to replace steel stringer beams on the bridge. He said that if the work goes beyond that date, he would request from PennDOT a safety plan for spring boaters.
Contacted later, PennDOT spokesman James May said that 12 beams are to be replaced. Work will commence once materials arrive and should take three weeks to complete. The bridge will be shut down from 8 a.m. to 12 and 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The contractor, Fahs Rolston, is doing the job for $120,000.
Responsibility of Delaware River spans is shared between Pennsylvania and New York. In this case, Pennsylvania does the work, and New York pays half. In other cases, New York does the work and Pennsylvania pays half.
May noted that the bridge is still slated to be replaced in 2016, at a cost of $13 million.
Although defended by various organizations and individuals who have sought to save the structure, May likened the situation to trying and keep an old car running. Another $120,000 is being spent to maintain the span. Eventually, he said, the car owner may realize it is better to start new.
May said they are working on specific design plans with New York and are waiting for an environmental clearance.
He stated that PennDOT still welcomes an interested party to purchase and relocate the old bridge.
In June 2012, officials from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that they would reconsider the decision to replace the Pond Eddy Bridge and report back in six months.
That was the outcome of a June 27th meeting in Monticello between NYS Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and local officials working to protect the historic structure.
In December 2010, PennDOT down-posted the bridge’s weight limit to four tons due to deterioration on the bridge. In the spring of 2011, PennDOT replaced 64 stringers and wood deck planks. The seven-ton weight limit was restored after construction.
It will continue to have a seven-ton limit after the current scheduled maintenance, May said.
The Pond Eddy Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 14, 1988 as a significant remaining example of a multiple span Pennsylvania Truss.
There are 26 residential homes on the Pennsylvania side, which is in Shohola Township. Pond Eddy, PA is sandwiched between a ridge line and railroad on the west side and the Delaware River on the east. Various plans have been put forth to replace the bridge or to preserve it, with concern that the span cannot safely support service trucks and emergency vehicles.
New UDC Chairman
• Jeffery Dexter of Damascus Township was elected Chairman of the UDC for 2012. Andrew Bower, Town of Deerpark was named Vice-chairman and Jack Niflot, Town of Fremont was elected Secretary/Treasurer.
• Sunday April 28th was picked for the UDC's 25th annual Awards Ceremony. Individuals are honored each year at the dinner, for their contributions towards protecting the cherished resources of the Upper Delaware River Corridor. The dinner will be held on the Pennsylvania side, at a location to be announced, said Laurie Ramie, Executive Director.
• A $2500 grant is being sought for audio-visual equipment to enhance presentations about the Upper Delaware and issues affecting the river corridor.
• The UDC, which was set up by Congress to oversee the River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Corridor, has since its inception in 1988, functioned on a $300,000 annual budget. Like other agencies, the UDC is waiting for funding and has $4,000 left until mid-April when they would need to close down without their allocation. Park Service Superintendent McGuiness is in touch with officials about the late allocation.
• The 2013 Delaware River Sojourn has been set for June 22- June 29. Participants will spend three days on the Upper Delaware. On the 22nd they will be paddling from the Ten Mile River to the Zane Grey Access. On the 23rd they will be go from Zane Grey to Jerry's Three River Campground, and on the 24th they will paddle on the Lackawaxen River.
• The UDC was advised that Westfall Township Supervisors, Dec. 6, approved their controversial "fun tax". There will be a one percent tax on anything considered amusement, which includes canoe liveries.
• Travis O'Dell, UDC Resource Conservationist, reported at committee about railroad oil underground at Port Jervis, that is seeping towards the Delaware River. An estimated 10,000 gallons of oil exists in an underground plume from the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. The Times Herald Record reported that New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urgently wants to resolve this issue before the oil reaches the river. The slow-moving plume, however, is not expected to reach the river for approximately 20 years.
Dennis Demara, who represents PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) at the UDC, highlighted projects in Pike and Wayne counties that are benefitting from a $26.5 million grant package. Governor Tom Corbett announced the awards Nov. 20, from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program.
Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal funds. There were 198 projects across the state receiving a portion. Locally:
• Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, $35,000 from Snow/ATV, to further develop statewide navigational signage project by expanding the installation of signs at snowmobile trail intersections in the northeastern counties between Tioga and Pike counties.
• Pike County, $819,000 from Key 93, for the acquisition of approximately 448 acres off Silver Lake Road and adjacent to Delaware State Forest, Delaware Township, Pike County, for connectivity with a
municipal greenway, open space and passive recreation.
• Pike County, $30,100 from Key 93, to prepare a Greenways Plan for the Lackawaxen-Upper Delaware River including Lackawaxen, Milford, Shohola and Westfall townships and Matamoras and Milford boroughs.
• Shohola Township, $94,000 from Key 93, for the rehabilitation and further development of Rohman Park to include rehabilitation of ballfield; construction of pavilion; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing, fencing, pedestrian walkways, utilities, lighting; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
• Northeast PA Sno Trails, Inc., $174,200 from PRT, to purchase a snowmobile trail groomer to groom 230 miles of snowmobile trails. The trail system is in Lackawanna, Wayne and Susquehanna counties.
The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY. For information contact them at (845)252-3022 or visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.