Work underway to solve Halcottsville's bridge issues
By Joe Moskowitz
Just five years after the Delaware County Department of Public Works (DPW) though it had ended a controversy over repairs to the Halcottsville bridge, the bridge had to be shut down for repairs last week, and the DPW will have to close it again later this year.
DPW Commissioner Wayne Reynolds told the News that the problem is an unexpected settling on the south, or Main Street, side of the span. The weight of the bridge had shifted from what is called a grade beam, which was installed in 2009, to the abutment from the old bridge.
That was corrected and traffic is now back to normal. But for one week, there was a nearly three-mile detour just to get from one side of the bridge to the other.
Halcottsville residents may be used to this.
For many years, vehicles that weighed more than three tons, that included fuel trucks and school buses, were forced to take the long way home. At one time there was an effort to replace that span with a covered bridge, which used to be there. Then it was determined that a standard bridge would be the answer. But Jim and Susan Kelly, who operate Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant on Lake Wawaka, fought the county over its construction plans.
Kelly contended that driving metal plates to anchor the bridge could cause the Pleasant Pheasant’s foundation to collapse and could compromise its septic system.
Reynolds told the News he couldn’t absolutely guarantee there wouldn’t be damage, but he was certain the county couldn’t afford to pay for it if there was any. Then in the spring of 2009, Kelly went on vacation to France. And while he was gone, the DPW went to work. It used a design to construct the bridge without driving metal into the ground and without touching Kelly’s property in any way. But Reynolds said, “I am not really proud of that bridge.” But he said something had to be done. It was completed, and was apparently safe.
Then the grade beam problem was discovered. While plans were being made for that repair, the state Department of Transportation discovered another problem and “red flagged” the bridge again. This time on the north, or Pleasant Pheasant side of the bridge. The old concrete support, which goes back to the covered bridge era, was crumbling.
Reynolds said special nails and a grout which bonds with rocks will be used to solve that problem.
But the bridge will have to be closed again sometime this summer. He said it will remain open at night and for emergency traffic. He also said Kelly is aware of the construction plans and has raised no objections.