Community hails historic re-opening of historic bridge

Milford. "A source of danger and a great expense to keep in repair" from its beginnings more than a century ago, the Mott Street Bridge now has a new lease on life. It's nurturing an appreciation for historic preservation, reconnecting Milford and Dingman, and promising a boon to the local economy.

07 Jan 2020 | 12:25

A crowd gathered in the bright sunshine on Jan. 2 to mark the grand re-opening of the historic Mott Street Bridge.

The county-owned bridge, which spans the Sawkill Creek from Milford Borough to Dingman Township, is on the National Register of Historic Places. For decades it was closed to motor vehicle traffic and, since 2011, closed to all traffic. The county has been restoring the bridge since 2018.

Referring to the Sept. 5, 1902, edition of the Pike County Press, Milford Mayor Sean Strub said, "Ever since its erection, the Mott Street bridge has been a source of danger and a great expense to keep in repair. Many hundreds of dollars have been expended on it, with the result that a great part of this money has been wasted, and now extensive repairs . . . are necessary. It has been suggested that the bridge be lengthened some 40 feet and a new abutment erected . . . Iron work in the end is more expensive than good stone work. Bridges must be kept painted, and they frequently need re-planking."

Strub said credit goes to the Historic Preservation Trust of Pike County "for leading the effort to include the bridge as a contributing resource to Milford’s National Historic District and establishing its historic and cultural importance and sparking interest in its preservation."

He said one of the houses at the end of Mott Street plans to open a new business. He said they are thinking of making their motto, "Last beer before the bridge!"

Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg said the bridge will connect pedestrians to some of the area's most beautiful views.

“The Mott Street Bridge reopening to pedestrian and bicycle traffic gives rebirth to the ‘The Glen,’ the beautiful forested areas that borders the tranquil Sawkill Creek,” he said. “For over 100 years, visitors and residents have enjoyed some of most pristine Pike County landscapes at this location. The completion of the bridge once again reconnects Milford Borough to The Glen along with a beautiful walk to ‘The Knob,’ which offers a picturesque panoramic view of the Delaware River Valley.”

Funding

Michael Lamoreaux of McGoey, Hauser, and Edsall, the county engineer, oversaw the structural rehabilitation of the bridge, which included replacing pins, floor beams, and tension members. An $85,000 grant from the National Park Service covered the engineering fee.

Pike County also received a $475,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program for part the restoration. Statewide Supplemental (set-aside) funds covered the rest of the project, which totalled $1.6 million.

Osterberg thanked PennDOT, the Milford Borough Council, Dingman Township supervisors, the National Park Service, county planning director Michael Mrozinski, engineer Michael Lamoreaux, and McGoey, Hauser, and Edsall. He also thanked Mott Street residents for their patience as the project was underway.

History of the Mott Street Bridge
The original Mott Street Bridge opened in 1881 to connect Milford Borough to what, in that day, was the primary route to Stroudsburg, Pa. The bridge was constructed by Mr. CS and S Palmer of Stroudsburg, according to the Dec. 27 edition of the Port Jervis Evening Gazette that same year.
After only a few years in use, the bridge was in “poor condition,” according to a Gazette article dated April 7, 1887. Arguments over whether to repair or replace the bridge, and who was responsible for it, carried out in the local political arena and newspapers for many years.
During that time, there were temporary repairs and further degradation due to heavy use and storms.
Ultimately, the commissioners decided to replace the bridge with a metal one-span truss bridge, which opened for travel in 1903.
The 1903 incarnation of the Mott Street Bridge – technically known as a Pratt Truss Bridge to honor its designers, engineers Willis Pratt and his father Caleb Pratt – was constructed by the Penn Bridge Company,of Beaver Falls, Pa. An Evening Gazette article dated January 11, 1904, reported Pike County auditors as saying the bridge cost “not far from $6,000.”
The Penn Bridge Company designed and built hundreds of truss bridges around the country during that era, according to an article in The Beaver County Times on Aug. 15, 2017. Only a handful of these bridges remain.
Source: The Pike County Commissioners