Thirteen people might disagree with Molovinsky, but we won't be hearing from them. They died when the Mississippi River Bridge collapsed in 2008.
I digress. Let's stick to this bridge.
Molovinsky tells us that the Reading Road bridge is in "excellent condition" and he even confirmed that with someone who used to work in Allentown's engineering department. Because it's a stone arch bridge, he also claims it's historically significant. "When you replace a historic bridge which doesn't need replacing, you're stealing our culture," he says.
Michael talks like that.
I figured I should warn someone that Cunningham is stealing our culture, and was eventually put in touch with the "bridge doctor," Glenn Solt. His official title is Capital Projects Manager.
Solt was surprised to learn the bridge is in "excellent condition." "It was built for horses and wagons, not automobiles," he told me. The bridge only has a three-ton carrying capacity, far from today's standards. Twenty-six hundred cars and trucks ride over it every day. No buggies, except when those damn Mennonites are cruisin'.
But it's a stone arch bridge. Doesn't that mean something, Glenn? Solt told me that the County does try to preserve small stone arch bridges with minimal traffic. "They are nice-looking bridges," he admitted. But like a pretty woman, they are also high maintenance. "It becomes impractical to spend the kind of money you need to spend to take care of these bridges." It is also a false beauty. "The stone you see is 1 foot thick. Then they fill it in with crap."
An exterior of stone, filled in with crap? I dated her.
But what about the Allentown engineering department? Molovinsky relies on some mysterious soul who used to work there. Well, Allentown does not own the Reading Road bridge. But they do own a downstream bridge on nearby Union Street, and Solt tells me they intend to replace it soon.
What about that pedestrian walkway? Molovinsky claims it needs a coat of paint. Solt tells me the new bridge will accommodate pedestrians. The pedestrian walkway will be torn down.
Solt is backed up by National Bridges, which rates the bridge as "functionally obsolete." Its sufficiency rating is just 20.6%.
Instead of "political patter," Solt is actually doing his job. "It's what we're supposed to do with the public's money - take care of their roads. You can't get from place to place without that kind of infrastructure."