This bridge is an extremely rare example of a multi-span pin-connected Pennsylvania highway truss bridge. The Pennsylvania truss, particularly among highway structures, is a relatively uncommon truss configuration, and multi-span examples are even more uncommon. The bridge is composed of two eight panel truss spans.
This particular bridge is also noteworthy for its high level of historic integrity. Modifications on the bridge are few and minimal. Original stone abutments and lattice railings remain on the bridge.
Taking a drive along the New York side on the river road north of Port Jervis, you are treated to one of the most scenic drives imaginable. The scenery is largely pristine, untouched natural landscape. Steep rocks along the edge of the river contrast with thick wooden forests along the river. The road itself provides excellent views, winding along the river sometimes right near the edge of rocky cliffs. The Pond Eddy Bridge is perhaps the climax of this drive, presenting itself in a stunning fashion from a distance, its beautiful, complex geometry complimenting the surrounding scenery in a noticeable, but unobtrusive manner.
Sadly, there are plans to destroy this beautiful landscape and construct a large, ugly slab of concrete that will forever ruin the beauty of the surrounding area.
This bridge links a rural area of New York to Pennsylvania. Some time ago, it was determined that the deteriorating condition of the bridge warranted a discussion of what to do about the bridge. Because the bridge is on the state line, both New York and Pennsylvania were involved with deciding what to with the bridge. In general, the state of New York supported trying to preserve this rare historic bridge. In contrast, and unsurprisingly, Pennsylvania with its extremely poor bridge preservation track record, immediately demanded that the historic bridge not be preserved, and instead be replaced with a new bridge. The bridge serves 12 permanent residents and around 25 total properties on a dead-end road. PennDOT, therefore, decided that a wide bridge with a 40 ton weight limit (the same full legal load used on major roads) was needed, and would cost over $12 Million. Options to rehabilitate the bridge for a reasonable weight limit, or even to retrofit the bridge for a significantly higher weight limit were all rejected. And like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, Pennsylvania won the argument, and current plans are to demolish this bridge. This is an absurd decision. In any case where two or more states are involved, historic bridge preservation should be mandated when even a single state is in favor of preservation. Moreover, there was a group of concerned citizens who had been trying to voice support for preservation of this bridge, making the fact that the demolition option was selected even more unacceptable.
The federally mandated Section 106 process to consider alternatives to demolish this historic bridge was not conducted in good faith by PennDOT. It was not apparent that a real attempt to find an alternative that would avoid demolishing the bridge was made. Consulting parties voiced objections to the conduct of the process, which seemed biased toward demolishing the bridge before alternatives were considered or consulting parties even had a chance to provide input. The situation was so bad that a federal agency, the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP), was contacted and brought in to observe and comment on the conduct of the Section 106 Review. ACHP is not normally brought in to do this, but the conduct was so heavily contested that they were contacted by the consulting parties. In the end, a Memorandum of Agreement to replace the bridge was signed, however at the same time, the ACHP wrote a letter essentially condemning the conduct of Section 106 regarding not only the Pond Eddy Bridge, but other historic bridge related projects in Pennsylvania. This letter from an official government agency strongly echoes the issues that HistoricBridges.org has reported on in Pennsylvania since the website began to cover Pennsylvania in 2004. Some excerpts from the ACHP letter are shown below. Important parts of the excerpts have been placed in bold text by HistoricBridges.org for emphasis.
"...the replacement of the historic Pond Eddy Bridge, which spans the Delaware River between New York and Pennsylvania, was the subject of intense disagreement among the Section 106 consulting parties. During the early stages of the Section 106 review, in May 2004, the New York State Historic Preservation Officer (NYSHPO) expressed disbelief that a bridge of such limited use could not be rehabilitated to meet the needs of the small community of Pond Eddy. In addition, the NYSHPO questioned the need for a new bridge with a 40- ton load capacity. Eight years later, the NYSHPO and several other consulting parties continue to have the same views."
"...the NYSHPO in its letter to FHWA of October 28, 2011 , indicated that she remains convinced that the 'demolition of the historic resource was a foregone conclusion and all efforts were directed at demolishing the bridge without regard to possibly retaining it in any form.'"
"Although the SHPOs and ACHP were kept informed of the status of the project through monthly conference calls, the consulting parties were left out of these conversations and were infrequently informed about whether, or how, their historic preservation concerns were being addressed."
"The Friends of Pond Eddy, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Historic Bridge Foundation all object to replacement of the historic bridge and therefore, have declined to sign the MOA as concurring parties. The Preservation League of New York State, Preservation Pennsylvania, the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition, and Pike County Preservation Trust have raised similar concerns about the project."
"Therefore, of larger concern to the ACHP is a pattern that appears to have emerged about PennDOTs coordination of bridge replacement projects in smaller, more rural communities. Specifically, we have been asked to intervene in nine (9) bridge replacement projects in Pennsylvania in the last two years. A significant proportion of the requests are from citizens concerned about the demolition of small, locally significant bridges. The affected bridges are located in Bucks, Chester, Lycoming, Crawford, and Snyder Counties. Similar to the Pond Eddy Project, alternatives to replacing these bridges appear to have been vetted internally and rejected before Section 106 consultation began. The Section 106 review thus appears to be a review process used to defend the bridge owner's decision to build a new bridge, and to mitigate the adverse effect of demolition of the existing historic bridge."
"The consideration of alternatives is a fundamental part of NEPA, Section 4(f), and Section 106."
"As a rule, we find that objections can be more quickly and satisfactorily resolved with a coordination strategy that is inclusive, responsive to objections, and promotes a collaborative approach to decision-making."
"FHWA should develop a more systematic approach to decision-making for historic bridges, including establishing alternative design standards for bridges on low volume roads."
New York State was so frustrated with the Section 106 process that although the State Historic Preservation Office finally signed off on the replacement plan just to move the project forward, they also made the following statement regarding PennDOT's conduct of Section 106 at the same time: "Demolition of the historic resource was a foregone conclusion and all efforts were directed at demolishing the bridge without regard to possibly retaining it in any form."
The rarity of the design and span configuration, along with the historic integrity, and coupled with the significance of its beautiful setting to which it is a compliment, makes this a very important bridge for which preservation is essential. To even consider the demolition of this bridge should be considered a crime.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The bridge is listed in the National Register 11/14/1988.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over the Delaware River in a sparsely developed, forested setting. The bridge is located in the Upper Delaware River National Scenic and Recreation Area.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Available and Unorganized Photos
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
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