PennDOT is planning to close the Route 209 bridge at the southern end of East Harford Street, Milford, for rehabilitation.
MILFORD - PennDOT is planning to close the Route 209 bridge at the southern end of East Harford Street, Milford, for rehabilitation. The project is slated to begin in fiscal year 2020 and is estimated to require a closure of six months. A proposed temporary bridge or a potentially long detour sparked discussion at the Pike County Commissioners’ meeting on August 2nd.
Still three years out, PennDOT held a meeting with local municipal officials recently at the Dingman Township offices, to review what are still very preliminary ideas on how to handle traffic while the bridge is shut down. Project Manager Christopher M. Tomaszewski told The News Eagle that the meeting was brought together before PennDOT started design work, since the 209 bridge is surrounded by National Park Service land and historic structures, and near Milford’s Historic District.
Local officials were presented with a plan for a temporary runaround, using a temporary bridge just upstream from the 209 span, as well as detour options.
The suggested temporary bridge, which has yet to meet Park Service approval, would utilize part of a gravel road just south of the 209 bridge, that if taken all the way, leads to a different bridge, the Mott Street Bridge. This is a former vehicular span that was downgraded to only pedestrian use, but is currently closed and pending replacement as a walking bridge.
The temporary vehicular bridge would span the creek between the 209 bridge and the Mott Street crossing. The temporary route would then reconnect with 209 on the Milford side (north) of the construction area.
This temporary route goes around the back of a building owned by the Park Service which is very historic to the region. Known as the Callahan House, it is identified as the original Wayne County Courthouse, used when Wayne County was much larger, encompassing the lands of the future Pike County. Wayne County was formed in 1798; Pike County was separated from Wayne in 1814.
Matthew Osterberg, Pike County Commissioner/Chairman, said he attended the meeting as well, as it impacts the county.
He expressed strong concern if a detour were put in place, which he estimated could be as long as 14 miles. This, he said, would discourage tourism, and greatly impact travel between Milford Borough and the Route 206 bridge which spans the Delaware River to New Jersey. Route 209 also leads further down into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and is an important passage between Milford and Stroudsburg.
Osterberg also expressed grave doubt that the Park Service would allow use of their lands to build the temporary bridge and route around the construction area.
When contacted for comment, the Park Service, at Bushkhill, stated only that they are “working closely with PennDOT to identify an option that will continue to provide the public with access to Route 209 during the bridge rehabilitation project.”
Osterberg said he raised a suggested alternative solution, at the meeting with PennDOT. He advised, instead of building a costly temporary span, re-work the plans for the Mott Street Bridge project and temporarily upgrade it to allow lighter vehicles such as cars over the Mott Street crossing, one way only. Osterberg said that cars could then use local roads on the other side of 209: Metz Road and East Harford Street, coming out by Belle Reve Senior Living.
“It would be slow going,” he said, and trucks would need to take a long detour.
To replace the Mott Street truss bridge is slated to cost around $1.2 million. Pike County has invested $461,000, which came from a grant over two years ago. Osterberg said that this was as far as the county could go in helping to pay for the Mott Street span.
He questioned the state’s fiscal wisdom of spending a large sum on a temporary bridge “which will be thrown away [after the project is done],” he said, instead of just spending it on the Mott Street bridge and allow it to be used for cars while the 209 span is rebuilt.
Subject to change, the PennDOT 12-year plan calls for 209 bridge rehabilitation to start in September 2020, with completion estimated in January 2022. The Project Manager stated that the cost has not been determined.