Parts of U.S. Highway 209 in far eastern Pennsylvania, the most heavily traveled road owned by the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, will be closed or have restricted traffic beginning in spring 2021 as improvements and upgrades are done on four bridge structures.
The work will begin in April and take approximately a year to complete, according to park officials. The bridges to be repaired are over Bushkill Creek at Milepost 1.2; Toms Creek at MP 4.7; Adams Creek at MP 14.2; and the large culvert which directs Conashaugh Creek under the road at MP 16.5.
The project calls for safety improvements and includes rehabilitation of the bridge structures as well as scour-prevention work, roadway maintenance and new guardrails.
The specific timeline for work on each bridge is still being finalized, as are the contracts to do the work, said park spokesperson Kathleen Sandt. The improvements and repairs will be done in phases and not all bridges will be under construction at the same time, she explained.
There will be some minor delays as contractors move machinery at some sites and single lanes with traffic controlled by flaggers at other times.
"We will make every effort to minimize delays while also ensuring the safety of the traveling public and those doing the work," she added.
Temporary park area closures also will be in effect during some phases of the project which is expected to be completed in April 2022.
Bridges in the recreational area, which encompasses 70,000 acres on either side of the Delaware River in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, are reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) every two years, said Chiara Palazzoli, the Delaware Water Gap park's project manager. She added that the park has more than 150 mi. of roadway and U.S. 209 is "by far the most heavily travelled."
The park-owned section of the highway begins at the entrance just north of the Pocono Mountain Villas Resort in East Stroudsburg and goes north to the Second Street intersection in Milford.
Palazzolo said the repairs are needed to remediate the normal wear and tear expected on a heavily traveled roadway and because of natural processes like erosion from the streams they straddle.
"The increase in rainfall and storm intensity over the last three to five years has added to the wear and tear that we normally see," she explained.
The four-bridge improvement project is being paid for from Federal Lands to Parks funds and is contracted to Jacksonville, Fla.'s Central Southern Construction Co. Inc.
Sandt said the public can get updates on the Delaware Water Gap park's construction progress online at www.nps.gov/dewa and its Facebook page.
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