How often does one get to do construction to redevelop a half-mile train trestle nestled in a structure once active in worldwide steel production?
Not too often, according to Ken Duerholz, vice president of Boyle Construction Inc. of Allentown after a press conference announcing the start of the project on Wednesday at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.
The firm is serving as the construction manager for the $10.1 million Hoover-Mason Trestle project at SteelStacks and will start construction in June. About 200 workers would be on the construction project, though not all at once, he said.
Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of Bethlehem said conceptual plans and designs are now complete for redeveloping the elevated structure to connect visitors from the entrance to Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to the Visitors Center, a stretch of 2,000 feet. The project includes almost 35,000 square feet of new walking surface along the length of the trestle, with construction set to be complete June 2014.
Once complete, ownership of the site will be transferred from Sands BethWorks Retail LLC to the Redevelopment Authority of Bethlehem, said Callahan.
The goal of trestle project is to use the existing structure to support circulation and passive recreation on that site and connect the public to the history of the facility, said Callahan.
"Once you get up on the Hoover-Mason Trestle, your perspective changes completely," said Callahan.
The site will also have three points of virtual connection, and be handicap accessible, he added.
Robert DeSalvio, president of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem said he drives a lot of visitors through the area, including investment bankers and people in the hospitality industry, who say they are amazed at how the community could get projects such as these accomplished.
"It's a great tourist attraction, it's really a regional project," said DeSalvio.
Officials hope the trestle project will help drive economic investment in and around the site once it's complete.
Steve Donches, president and CEO of the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem said the trestle project shows that local business leaders and community leaders understand and respect the past.
"By walking on it and learning about it, you get a deeper appreciation for the community beyond," said Donches.