After 26 years in the making, the new Mansion House Bridge was dedicated June 11 in Jim Thorpe, connecting 165 miles of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
The $4.1 million project will connect D&L Trail users to the downtown business district. Although the bridge was dedicated, it was only open for several hours. It was closed later that afternoon as finishing touches on its construction are finalized.
“We’ve worked passionately as a heritage area for the last 30 years to bring us to this historic moment,” said Elissa Garofalo, executive director of the D&L National Heritage Corridor.
The 250-foot steel truss bridge with a wooden deck, spanning the Lehigh River, helps fill one of the last remaining gaps along the trail in Carbon County. When fully connected, the D&L Trail will span 165 miles from Historic Bristol Borough to Wilkes-Barre. “The bridge will soon connect travelers without contributing to traffic, and provide an economic engine for this community,” Garofalo said.
Only one other piece of the D&L Trail remains unfinished in Carbon County, the short connector and retaining wall immediately on the east side of the Mansion House Bridge.
The event started with members of the United Veterans Organization unfurling two American flags, followed by the first crossing of the bridge by the Jim Thorpe Biker Team and 300 Rails-to-Trails Pennsylvania Sojourn Bicyclists.
Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of PA’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and James Ritzman, Deputy Secretary of Planning for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, also spoke at the event, as did local dignitaries.
The retaining wall and trail project on the east side of the Lehigh River are not complete. Another $565K is needed to finish that work. A request has been submitted to gain the funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Officials on the project said that once an accurate timeline is determined for the completion of the trail connector and wall, the public will be notified.
Carbon County owns the bridge and is responsible for maintenance costs.
The project was conceived in the D&L’s 1992 Management Action Plan and was funded by grants from PennDOT. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the William Penn Foundation and the D&L provided funding for engineering and design. The through-truss bridge was assembled and installed by Latona Trucking of Pittston.
Story By Christopher Holland
The Current Contributing Writer