The old, in Tatamy is finally coming down.
Construction workers Wednesday afternoon sliced through the steel bridge supports with a torch, which then allowed the crane operator to lift bridge beams off their concrete support pillars. The beams were then gently placed on the closed roadway leading to the bridge.
“It’s coming down fast," Tatamy Mayor Luke Duignam said about the bridge that spans the Bushkill Creek. "Let’s hope [the new bridge] goes up just as fast.”
The bridge, which connects Main Street in Tatamy with Uhler Road in Forks Township, was closed last year when a hole in the road deck expanded, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported.
Sean Brown, a representative for PennDOT, wouldn’t give an exact date for the completion of the new bridge.
There have been t. Duignam said demolition of the bridge was most recently held up by fish spawning and lead paint.
The Bushkill Creek is known for its trout supply, so the state Department of Environmental Protection wouldn’t allow activity on the bridge project that would interfere with that supply, Duignam explained. The DEP also wanted to make sure any materials from the demolition, such as lead paint, wouldn’t enter the creek.
Mike Karl, of Karl and Associates in Mohnton (Berks County), was on site during the bridge demolition Wednesday. His company handles the environmental consulting for construction projects. He said that although it rained hard on Tuesday, the creek levels did not rise enough to prevent work the following day.
Karl said the demolition is being handled by Empire Wrecking Co. of Reading. The crane operation was handled by Dickenson Crane Service, also of Reading.
Brown said demolition of the old bridge should be completed within a month. Once cleanup is finished, construction of the new bridge will begin.
Duignam said that from what he has heard, “this time next year, we should have a new bridge.”
Brown said in Forks Township is handling the construction of the new bridge. Its design hasn’t changed since PennDOT provided the specs on it a year ago, Brown said. The new bridge will be 195 feet long and 42.5 feet wide. The old bridge was 189 feet long and 22 feet wide. Both bridges were designed for two-lane traffic.
The Main Street bridge is the second bridge in Tatamy to be closed. In 2002, a bridge spanning the Bushkill Creek -- it connected Eighth Street in Tatamy to a small portion of Palmer Township and Stockertown -- collapsed when a bridge support fell into a sinkhole. This bridge was removed, and it was decided that it would not be replaced, PennDOT spokesman Ron Young said.
Still in the works, Duignam said, is the new at Tatamy Road. The mayor said work on the interchange is expected to begin in August. During construction, he and other town officials hope one lane of the current bridge that spans Route 33 and connects Tatamy to Nazareth will be kept open.
“We have not been officially informed that is the game plan,” Duignam said. “I hope they take into consideration that they can’t take out both bridges.”