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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Only 9 of 33 Bridges in NorCo P3 are Structurally Deficient

Northampton County has 119 bridges, and it's no secret hat many of them are in serious need of repair Several years ago, Council member Bob Werner suggested bundling bridges so that similarly constricted bridges could be worked on simultaneously. Former Executive John Stoffa liked Werner's idea, and in 2013, a $19.6 million bridge bond was floated to fix 16 bridges and make other improvements.

After Stoffa had ridden off into the sunset, the County replaced him with Executive John Brown. He was going to streamline county government, and claimed to have a better of fixing our bridges. he said that with a public private partnership, the County could fix or replace 33 bridges over the next five years, and for far less money. Ken Kraft had his misgivings, but the rest of County Council were sold. This is the same group of "conservatives" who voted to give the DaVinci Center $10 million for a giant fish tank in downtown Easton.

Now if you owned 119 bridges and could fix 33 of them over the next four years, it stands to reason that you would first go after the infrastructure that actually endangers the public. But it appears that public safety  was far less important to John Brown than making bridges wide enough for increased truck traffic.

Two bridges in East Allen and Allen Tps, one on Valley View Rd and the other on Willow Brook Road, are located quite close to the UPS Distribution Center under way in Allen Tp. Though both bridges are in great shape,with sufficiency ratings of 60.6 and 84.4, they are being replaced for wider bridges that will be better able to carry on commerce. Damn quality of life!

The spice must flow!

And so it goes with nearly every bridge. Only nine of the 33 are actually considered structurally deficient.But 28 are being replaced with wider versions that will enable rigs to make their way into every nook and cranny of the county. Brown even took it upon himself to ruin a scenic byway in Lower Mount Bethel, and ignored Supervisors and residents who complained. Even The Morning Call scoffed at the "little village" for daring to think that a rustic lifestyle matters more than commerce.

The spice must flow!

One of the bridges in Lower Mount Bethel actually has a sufficiency rating of 93.2, meaning it is in excellent condition. But it will be replaced by a wider bridge, enabling commerce. I have listed all 33 bridges below. Although a few of them are clearly unsafe and need to go, where are the other unsafe bridges? It.
 is clear that Brown's selection had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with business.

The spice must flow!

Bridge 185 (built 1917) (Little Creek Rd, L Mount Bethel) is considered functionally obsolete because it is one-lane, but is not structurally deficient. It has a sufficiency rating of 64.8. Average daily traffic is 200 cars. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 41 (built 1946) (Little Creek Rd, Lower Mt Bethel) is neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient. Average daily traffic is 200 cars. There is a 20-ton weight limit. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 43 (built 1911) (Little Creek Rd, Lower Mt Bethel) is a concrete, arch-deck bridge that is rated functionally obsolete, but is not structurally deficient. It is considered stronger than most county bridges, but is single lane. According to Lower Mt Bethel resident Michele Szoka, any attempt to widen it will result in destruction of properties on either side, and will destroy flora and fauna in and around the creek. Average daily traffic is 350 cars. There is a 20-ton weight limit. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 44 (built 1957)  (Little Creek Rd, Lower Mt Bethel) is a steel-beam bridge considered neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient. Average daily traffic is 200 cars. There is no weight limit. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 195 (built 1927) (Little Creek Rd, Lower Mt Bethel) is a concrete-encased steel beam bridge that is rated both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. It is single lane. I question whether it is really structurally deficient because the structural evaluation numbers are all 4 or higher. According to L Mt Bethel Supervisor Sandra Newman, the Township and a third-party engineer have determined the bridge is adequate. Average daily traffic is 150 cars. There is no weight limit. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 54 (built 1939) (Flicksville Rd,Washington Tp) is a concrete encased steel beam bridge with no restrictions and considered neither structurally deficient nor functionally obsolete. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 63 (built 1923)(Bushkill St, Tatamy Borough) is a concrete encased steel beam bridge considered functionally obsolete, but is still structurally sound, with a 16 ton weight limit. Slated for replacement.

Bridge 66 (built 1916, re-built 1949) (Lefevre Rd, Stockertown) is a steel beam one-lane bridge that is structurally fine but is considered functionally obsolete. There is a 15 ton weight limit. Slated for replacement. Average daily traffic - 250 cars.

Bridge 76 (built 1915) (Bowers Rd, Bushkill Tp) is a concrete slab one-lane bridge with no restrictions that is structurally sound but is rated functionally obsolete and will be replaced. Average daily traffic is just 50 cars.

Bridge 78 (built 1910) (Engler Rd, Plainfield Tp) is a concrete arch bridge that is structurally sound but is considered functionally obsolete because it is one lane and will be replaced. Ave. daily traffic is-200 cars

Bridge 119 (built 1920) (Valley View Rd, E Allen Tp) is a concrete slab bridge that is considered structurally sound but will be replaced because it is one lane and is considered functionally obsolete. Only 100 cars per day traverse this bridge.

Bridge 124 (built 1958) (Willow Brook Rd, Allen Tp) is a steel I-Beam open-grate bridge rated structurally deficient even though the structural evaluation is at #4 or higher. There is a 20-ton weight limit. The sufficiency rating is 84.4. Ave daily traffic is 200 cars. It will be replaced.

Bridge 138 (built 1946) (Club Rd, Moore Tp) is a concrete encased steel beam bridge that is structurally sound but is considered functionally obsolete and will be replaced, possibly because it is only 23' wide. There is a 20-ton weight limit. Average daily traffic is 150 cars.

Bridge 139 (built 1911) (Walker Rd, Moore Tp)  is a concrete arch one-lane bridge considered functionally obsolete and slated for replacement even though it is structurally sound with a sufficiency rating of 77. There is a 25-ton weight limit. Average daily traffic is 150 cars

Bridge 146 (built 1920) (Delps Rd, Moore Tp) is a steel I-beam one-lane bridge with a 9-ton weight limit with homes coming right up to both sides of the bridge. The average daily traffic is just 90 cars. Though only one-lane, it is not rated functionally obsolete. It is instead rated structurally deficient even though its structural evaluation is 4 and above. It is 16' wide.

Bridge 184 (built 1917) (Clearfield Rd, Bushkill) is a concrete encased steel one-lane bridge that is therefore considered functionally obsolete and will be replaced even though it is structurally sound. The average daily traffic is 150 cars. There is a 20-ton weight limit. 

Bridge 188 (built 1919) (Dogwood Dr, Lehigh Tp) is a concrete slab one-lane bridge with a sufficiency rating of 77.5 that will nevertheless be replaced even tough it is rated neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient Average daily traffic is 100 cars.

Bridge 189 (built 1922) (Ackermanville Rd, Washington Tp) is a 13-ton weight restricted concrete slab single-lane bridge considered both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient, with a sufficiency rating of just 18.1 It will be replaced. Average daily traffic is 200 cars.

Bridge 191 (built 1922) (Factoryville Rd, Washington Tp) is, like Bridge 189, a a 13-ton weight restricted one lane bridge. It is a concrete encased steel beam and is considered  both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, with a sufficiency rating of just 17.1 It will be replaced. Average daily traffic is 400 cars.

Bridge 202 (built 1922) (Ott Dr, L Mt Bethel Tp) is a concrete encased one-lane steel beam bridge with a 20-ton weight limit. It is in excellent condition, with a sufficiency rating of 93.2. It is neither structurally deficient  nor functionally obsolete, yet it will be replaced Average daily traffic is 300 cars.

Bridge 205 (built 1927) (S. Cottonwood Dr, Lehigh Tp) is a 20-ton weight limited one-lane bridge of concrete encased steel beams that  is neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient, and has a sufficiency rating of 60.5. Its average daily traffic is just 100 cars. But it will be replaced.

Bridge 207 (built 1951) (Getz Rd, Plainfield Tp) is an 8-ton weight limited one-lane steel beam bridge.It is structurally sound and has a sufficiency rating of 64.6  Average daily traffic is 100 cars. But it is just 17' wide, is considered functionally obsolete and will be replaced.

Bridge 210 (built 1930) (Miller Rd, Lower Mt Bethel Tp) is a 23' wide, 13-ton weight limited concrete encased steel beam bridge with a sufficiency rating of 40.9. Average daily traffic is 100 cars. Though not considered functionally obsolete, it  is structurally deficient and will be replaced

Bridge 212 (built 1930) (Sand Pit rd, U Mt Bethel) is a 26' wide steel I-beam bridge with no restrictions. It is considered neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient and has a sufficiency rating of 76. Its average daily traffic is just 150 cars. Yet it will be replaced.

Bridge 215 (built 1929) (Rasley Hill Rd, L Mt Bethel) is a concrete encased steel beam bridge with a sufficiency rating of just 23. It is both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.It is single lane and 20-ton weight restricted Its average daily traffic is 150 cars. It will be replaced.

Bridge 219 (built 1947) (Able Colony Rd, Plainfield Tp) is  steel beam bridge, 20'wide, with no restrictions and a sufficiency rating of 69.6. It is neither functionally obsolete nor structurally deficient. Average daily traffic is 200 cars. It will be replaced.

Bridge 224 (built 1945) (Fox Rd, Upper Nazareth) is an 18' wide single steel I-beam bridge with a 7-ton weight limit. These make the bridge functionally obsolete, but is is structurally sound and has an overall sufficiency rating of 73.6. Its average daily traffic is just 100 cars, but it will be replaced.

Bridge 227 (built 1958) (Knauss Rd, Bushkill Tp) is a steel beam open grate bridge, 22' wide, with a sufficiency rating of 73.4. It is considered neither structurally deficient nor functionally obsolete. Its average daily traffic is 150 cars. It will be replaced.

Bridge 15, also known as The Meadows Bridge and located in Lower Saucon Tp, was one of the few bridges slated for repair instead of replacement because of its historical significance. But a PennDot inspector recently discovered a serious crack and the bridge was closed. This bridge is being conveyed back to the county, and bridge contractor Kriger Construction will be compensated for the work it did. the County was fortunate to be able to include it in the Transportation Improvement Program, where 80% of the costs of a new bridge will be covered by the federal and state governments. The County will have to pay for the remaining 20%.   

Bridge 101 (built 1949) (Hanoverville Rd, Lower Nazareth) is a stone mason two-arch bridge with a 10-ton weight limit, although I routinely see large trucks ignore that limit. There are few weigh stations. it's a busy road, with a traffic volume of 1,000 cars daily. The bridge is considered functionally obsolete and has a sufficiency rating of just 22.2  This is a bridge that clearly should be replaced. Instead, it is getting some masonry work so it looks pretty as it collapses into Monocacy Creek. 

Bridge 157 (built 1964) (Evergreen Rd, Lehigh Tp) is a 28' wide concrete slab bridge with a 76.1 sufficiency rating. It is considered neither functionally obsolete nor structurally defective. It has no special restrictions. traffic volume is 350 cars per day. Safety improvements are planned, but it is unclear what they are.

Bridge 132 (built 1910) (Stone Bridge Rd, Allen Tp) is a 23' wide stone one-lane bridge with 3 arches. It has a 10-ton weight limit.its sufficiency rating is 38, and the bridge is considered both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. It is on a quiet road, and only 30 cars traverse daily. Instead of replacement, the bridge will be repaired with stone masonry   

Bridge 143 (built 1839) (Glase Rd, More Tp) is a single-land stone-arched bridge with a 12-ton weight limit. Though its sufficiency rating has dropped to 33.7, it is still structurally sound. he average daily traffic here is just 75 cars, and an attempt will be made to rehab the bridge instead of replacing it.

* Bridge Lingo

Sufficiency Rating is essentially an overall rating of a bridge's fitness for the duty that it performs based on factors derived from over 20 NBI data fields, including fields that describe its Structural Evaluation, Functional Obsolescence, and its essentiality to the public.They range from 0 to 100.

"Structurally deficientt" means that the condition of the bridge includes a significant defect, which often means that speed or weight limits must be put on the bridge to ensure safety; a structural evaluation of 4 or lower qualifies a bridge as "structurally deficient".

"Functionally obsolete" bridges are those that do not have adequate lane widths, shoulder widths, or vertical clearances to serve current traffic demand, or those that may be occasionally flooded. A functionally obsolete bridge is similar to an older house.

"Structural evaluation" is a number for a bridge, based on its deck, superstructure, substructure, and culvert. Anything below a 4 is trouble.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it true that county council sent the GPA a very insulting and demeaning letter demanding they attend the next county council meeting? Word is the GPA has lawyered up and do not feel they are obligated to march to this county councils tune.

Anonymous said...

What bullshit. Lets us be honest. First, the entire public-private partnership crap is to get around county law and regulations. So the county in its infinite good judgment wants to streamline their own laws they were elected to enforce. Apparently they have even let the builder pass on using local labor. Second the bridges were picked by Brown and the builder to ensure profit. The more bridges that are similar, close together and needing little repair means the contractor makes more money.

The county should hide it head in shame. This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with deals being cut to make money. Brown and his old cronies are despicable. So is anyone who praises this scam.


Why hasn't the new county government looked into this. Former officials should be called in to testify.

Anonymous said...

I get that safety comes first. No argument. But improving infrastructure in the Slate Belt has been a gripe for decades. Looking ahead for economic interests isn’t a bad thing. Who on council was supposed to be watching this? This detailed discussion should have happened a long time ago. Thanks for the detailed info.

Anonymous said...

817000.00 is alot of money and needs to be answer for.

Anonymous said...

Any discussion on replacing the Tatamy Road Bridge that was damaged several years ago during a on of the larger hurricanes? This replacement would perhaps help ease the congestion on Sullivan Trail and Uhler road.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if bridges were picked indiscriminately, instead of by need. Two out of four bridges that connects Hellertown with Lower Saucon Township are closed (Meadows and High Street bridges).

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is it true that county council sent the GPA a very insulting and demeaning letter demanding they attend the next county council meeting? Word is the GPA has lawyered up and do not feel they are obligated to march to this county councils tune"

It is NOT true. The truth, as has previously been reported in this blog, is that Finance Chair Ron Heckman, has invited them to come and to bring documentation with them. It is also true that you the taxpayer are on the hook for a Philly law firm that has already charged at least $30k and wants to sue this county. this form was hired as an emergency bc, according to Lushis, the GPA was about to be sued by the county. That has not happened. But this firm wants to sue the county and sought that authority at the last GPA meeting. One of the reasons this firm proposed to do is sue is to collect Langen and Lushis private bills. This is a misuse of public funds.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Any discussion on replacing the Tatamy Road Bridge that was damaged several years ago during a on of the larger hurricanes? This replacement would perhaps help ease the congestion on Sullivan Trail and Uhler road."

I have listed each of the 33 bridges included. As you can see yourself, Tatamy Road bridge is not included.

"It seems as if bridges were picked indiscriminately, instead of by need. Two out of four bridges that connects Hellertown with Lower Saucon Township are closed (Meadows and High Street bridges)."

The Meadows Bridge was included, but was taken out and has been given back to the county. As I explained in my post, it willbe fixed as part of the TIP. Also, I believe High Street bridge was fixed last year as part of Stoffa's bond, which actually did fix bridges in need. It appears to me that this bridge selection was certainly not intended to protect public safety.

"I get that safety comes first. No argument. But improving infrastructure in the Slate Belt has been a gripe for decades. Looking ahead for economic interests isn’t a bad thing."

If you live in the slate belt, I think it is time for your community to ask itself whether you like the rural charm of your area, or do you want to be another Route 248. Lower Mount Bethel would prefer to remain rural. My guess is that U Mt Bethel would want that, too. There are advantages to this winding country roads. But that should be your decision, not John Brown's.

Anonymous said...

Re:Slate Belt, absolutely agree. It’s time for a discussion. Economic improvement for the boroughs may well be tied to access through surrounding townships. It’s time to plan and not spitball. If it’s to remain sleepy and rural, so be it. But let’s figure this out before money is needlessly spent.

EMest said...

Bridge 202 is already torn apart and being replaced. Brought tears to my eyes as a child I played on and under this bridge. Now I read this.

Anonymous said...

Simple solution, let LMB take the bridges over from the county. Problem solved, for now. Until something happens and the crying wolves will be out in force once again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Simple solution, let LMB take the bridges over from the county. Problem solved, for now. Until something happens and the crying wolves will be out in force once again."

I'd be careful about demeaning a group that attended a meeting in force and identified themselves, unlike you. Also, my guess is that Lower Mt Bethel would be more than happy to take over these bridges.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if and when they are going to re-open Redington Rd-Riverside Dr? I drive by that way on Lower Saucon Rd every day and I still see signs that the road is closed so many miles in.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I just checked the High Street Bridge in Hellertown. There are signs that say the bridge is closed, there are barricades across the bridge. Actually, there are two bridges at this site. One bridge goes over the old Conrail tracks, while the other straddles the Saucon Creek. Both bridges are closed and are in need of repair.

Not trying to be argumentative here, but my point is that over half of the bridges that services a community are closed, while others that favor big business are being funded. Thanks for an excellent write-up.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he should share that letter with the public and let them decide?

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:05, I googled Hellertown High St bridge and there are news accounts indicating it had re-opened. I am at a loss to explain why the actual facts are different but will try to find out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:24, I picked up a copy and will publish

Anonymous said...

Don Cunningham’s vision for the county as a giant trucking terminal is about to be a reality.

Fuck the little villages.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:43. You are right . I have known the guy. He is definitely someone who forgot where he came from. Bullshit pays very, very well.

Anonymous said...

Brown and Lucious should be in jail

Jeff Fox said...

I have read the demeaning and demanding letter. It is neither demeaning nor demanding. The GPA has a responsibility and a duty to answer to county council. County council represents the people of Northampton County. They are the elected representatives of the people. County council has questions. The people have questions. The GPA should be willing and able to provide those answers. There should be no problem if everything has been done with integrity and the public in mind. The fact that the GPA and the county have an acrimonious relationship at present is sad and troublesome regardless who is at fault or whatever happened in the past. In the end it will be the taxpayers who will pay. The GPA should be accountable and answerable to the people. That includes county council.

Anonymous said...

as a follow up to the incorrect information on here about High St bridge. I believe the High St bridge ( old Conrail bridge) belongs to Bethlehem City. The county owned structure is in the city proper( Seidersville Rd) and the large truss bridge over the Saucon Creek. Wish people would get their facts straight . FAKE NEWS ! LOL