New bridge work to start in 2017

20-year debate on whether to fix or replace historic Pond Eddy bridge approaches resolution

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  • The historic 1904 bridge that connects Pond Eddy, Pa., with Pond Eddy, N.Y. (Photo by Anya Tikka)

Upper Delaware Council Executive Director Laurie Ramie said that although only a few people live on the Pennsylvania side, “they still have rights."

By Anya Tikka

— The 27 residences along Flagstone Road in Pond Eddy, Pa., will get a new Interstate-standard bridge to connect them with the rest of the world, with construction starting in 2017 if all goes according to plan.

No roads connect Flagstone to any other road on Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. About one dozen year-round residents must use New York roads to get home.

The bridge connects NY Route 97, which runs along the Delaware with Flagstone Road running along the river on Pennsylvania side. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is going ahead with plans, although many permits must yet be obtained, Press Office Representative Richard Taruto told the Courier.

Upper Delaware Council Executive Director Laurie Ramie explained that although only a few people live on the Pennsylvania side, “they still have rights." All other options — including buying the residents out and rehabilitating the existing, historic bridge — have been explored and found wanting.

Ramie recommends giving local residents on both sides of the river one more review of the potential impact of the new bridge, including the building phase when a temporary causeway will serve Flagstone Road residents. The public meeting the Design Advisory Committee will likely be in Shohola Town Hall, she said.

A problem for 20 years
Whether the 1904 Pond Eddy Bridge, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, should be replaced or repaired has been going on for some 20 years now, Ramie said. Grassroots movements, including the Friends of Pond Eddy Bridge, have sprung up to fight the project, saying the bridge and its construction will harm the environment. Pat Carullo of Friends of Pond Eddy Bridge said the heavy-duty bridge may open the way to hydrofracking in the state forest and game lands surrounding the small residential community along Flagstone. He also says the bridge, especially during its construction phase, will harm boating and fishing and tourism in general, and poses an unacceptable intrusion on native habitats.

Ramie said the final bridge design is not yet in place, and that Carullo doesn’t have any more facts than anyone else.

“Pure speculation is not helpful at this stage," she said.

The contract for the bridge is expected to be in place by April 2016, with construction following in 2017, and possibly extending into 2018, Ramie said. The total cost is estimated at $11.9 million, split 50-50 between the states of New York and Pennsylvania, with no local costs involved.

Although the bridge's listing on the historic register is meant to preserve it, studies showed that repairing the bridge will not only be more costly in the long run, replacing the metal steel members would have degraded its historic appearance.

Ramie said some kind of mitigation is usually done in cases like Pond Eddy Bridge, such as a brochure explaining the history of the bridge.

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