PennDOT District 4-0 turned down a request of the UDC to continue use of the river height signs on the bridges along the Upper Delaware River.

NARROWSBURG, NY - PennDOT District 4-0 turned down a request of the UDC to continue use of the river height signs on the bridges along the Upper Delaware River.
The matter was raised by UDC Director Laurie Ramie at the May 24th annual meeting of the New York - Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission (JIBS).

The chairmen of the JIBS responded in a July 5th letter that the departments of transportation in each state are responsible for maintaining the condition of the bridges themselves. It is not the role of these departments to disseminate river conditions to the boating public, the letter states, and they support the view of the National Park Service/Upper Delaware in no longer maintaining the color-coded river level signs placed on bridge abutments.

“We do not plan to install them under the [bridge] projects at Pond Eddy and Narrowsburg,” the letter states, signed JIBC Chairman George J. Roberts (PennDOT District 4-0) and Co-chairman John R. Williams (NYSDOT Region 9).

It is the position of the UDC that the river height signs should be revised to reflect the warning level where the Park Service requires use of life jackets, that the signs be maintained and installed when there is bridge construction or repairs/maintenance being done. The Park Service viewed the signs as a warning too late, once boaters are already on the river, and they did not indicate when the level reached the point that jackets must be worn.

Ramie related the reply from the JIBS, at the August 3rd meeting of the Upper Delaware Council.

The UDC also noted that with cell phone reception spotty on the Upper Delaware, the signs were needed to help advise the public.

The Park Service maintains a toll-free phone number to learn of current conditions (845-252-7100).

Current policy

Life jackets are required by law to be worn, regardless of age, when river height is above six feet. When the level is under six feet, the law requires that a wearable life jacket be readily accessible while boating. Children 12 years of age and younger are required by law to wear a properly fitted life jacket at all times.

The Park Service advises, however, wearing of life jackets while boating, fishing, swimming or floating. Every one of the 69 drowning victims on the Upper Delaware since 1980 were not wearing a life jacket.

Life jackets are required to be worn by all boaters from November 1 through April 1, regardless of the water level.