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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Northampton County's Bridges in "Excellent" Shape

Northampton County Council member Ron Angle has long maintained that the County needs to pay more attention to its 117 bridges. "Our bridges are in horrible condition, but nobody pays attention to bridges," he said at a recent Council meeting. "Bridges don't vote." While that may be true, Keller Engineering's Don Keller, joined by Borton Lawson's Ken McClain, told Angle's Long Range Planning Committee on May 11 that "our bridges are in excellent shape."

After the Mississippi River Bridge collapsed in 2008, killing thirteen people, a study was released revealing that Pennsylvania led the nation in deteriorating bridges, which 26.5% of its bridges rated structurally deficient.

In Lehigh County, Executive Don Cunningham started an ambitious program to improve the condition of Lehigh County's 47 bridges, including the 4th Street and Linden Street bridges. He replaced four bridges and had major repairs completed or underway on 17 others by the end of 2010, with another four in design and engineering for imminent replacement.

But in Northampton County, according to Keller, only 6 of its 117 bridges are "structurally deficient." Although they've "outlived their usefulness," there's no sudden rush to replace them. "A lot of the time, the local people don't want the bridge replaced," explained Keller.

As an example, Keller cites the small Stockertown-Tatamy bridge, known as "Sinkhole Bridge," which collapsed in 2000. It was eventually torn out, and Stockertown Boorough Council likes it that way because it has reduced traffic. He also mentioned Meadows Bridge in Lower Saucon Township, a beautiful stone-arched bridge built in 858. "People love it," he said.

In coordination with standards set by the federal government, Keller explained that every County-owned bridge is inspected every two years. Those rated as "structurally deficient" are inspected every year, and repaired or replaced with liquid fuel tax money, as well as money periodically received from the federal and state government.

Keller told a dubious Angle that the "maintenance program is the key" to extending the useful life of many County-owned bridges.

Executive John Stoffa warned the Committee that Northampton and Lehigh County will soon begin work on two bridges they jointly own on Main and Broad Streets in Bethlehem. The total cost of repair for each bridge will be between $13 and $16 million, which each County kicking in 2 1/2% of the cost.

Photo: Council members Mike Dowd and Bruce Gilbert concerned about County bridges.


Anonymous said...


Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, Angle was wrong, but was smart enough to dig and find out he was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County rennovated the 4th St bridge and now PennDOT wants to dismantle the 5th Street Bridge that crosses Route 22 which is a continuation of Allentown's 4th Street. Thatks really smart thinking. Cut off another artery into the city at the same time they are trying to revitalize and promote a hockey arena.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that a council member is resigning. Gilbert has missed several meeting recently. Any word on this Bernie?

Anonymous said...

So then we don't have to sell Gracedale ?
Stoffa wanted to use some of the money from the sale to fix bridges.Stoffa wrong again on more than one matter.

Anonymous said...

The faces of two brain surgeons deep in thought.