Save the bridge

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:21

    To the editor: The following is excerpted from a March 10 letter to Allen D. Biehler, Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, from the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition. The letter in its entirety may be found at Dear Secretary Biehler: Regarding the status of the Pond Eddy Bridge project . . . we continue to question your consultants’ qualifications and conclusions, especially relative to rehabilitation of historic bridge structures. The projection that even after restoration the Pond Eddy Bridge would have a life expectancy of only 5-15 years . . . flies in the face of logic and example, given that similar Delaware River bridges with similar loading, at Milanville and Dingmans, handle far greater traffic volumes without such dire life expectancy projections. In regard to . . . the “environmental clearance document” that you mention, we have been advised that this must include full consideration of impacts that this project will have on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. Such impacts include the secondary impact of the eventual widening of the road on the Pennsylvania side, which is currently a one-lane dirt track on the river edge. New bridge construction will likely cause the up-river flooding. You must also consider potentially adverse impacts on the Delaware and Hudson Canal remnants on the New York side. Consideration of all of these must be part of any legitimate public review process. As you know, we are not alone in our concerns. Another local organization, the Friends of the Pond Eddy Bridge, has been actively advocating for restoration of the bridge since 2002. At the State level, Preservation Pennsylvania has been advocating for preservation of the bridge since 2002 when it was listed on “Pennsylvania at Risk.” In New York, the Preservation League of New York listed the bridge on its “Seven to Save” campaign in 2002. We wonder how much more public concern is needed for PennDOT to seek a second expert opinion and address the other environmental impacts discussed above. We ask that using the powers invested in you as Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you take steps to ensure that all bias is removed from the process of evaluating alternatives for the Pond Eddy Bridge. A truly independent engineering study is needed. In addition, there needs to be full public participation in this crucial local decision, which could be achieved through complete public disclosure and hearings in which the consulting parties are given the legally mandated voice they deserve. For the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition, Mort Malkin, Vice-President