After more than two years of construction, the $28 million four-lane bridge in Jim Thorpe opened Friday – potentially the most significant transportation project in Carbon County in decades, a state official said.
The bridge spans the Lehigh River connecting Routes 903 and 209, allowing better flow of traffic between east Jim Thorpe and the downtown. It means that the business district will be more easily accessible and will have a major impact on the businesses and residents of the Jim Thorpe and nearby communities.
“We appreciate the patience of the legislators, local officials and business owners during this project,” said Michael Rebert, district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, who touted the importance of the new bridge. “It is an honor to open this magnificent structure with them here today.”
The bridge is named after a Jim Thorpe native and fallen army hero, Sgt. Andrew “A.J.” Baddick, who died in 2003 in Iraq while trying to save another soldier whose Humvee was attacked and flipped into water.
PennDOT invited Baddick’s family to open the memorial bridge during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Sgt. A.J. Baddick, a native of Jim Thorpe and Carbon County, is an excellent example of courage, loyalty,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, who spoke at the ceremony. “His sacrifice best represents the values of the United States armed forces.”
The 961-foot continuous steel plate girder structure is about 85 feet wide. Federal funds paid for 80 percent of the cost of construction, which began in March 2014. The state paid for the remaining 20 percent.
The existing two-lane Jim Thorpe Memorial Bridge that was previously being used was built in 1953 and rehabilitated in 1976. It is expected to be demolished in late July or early August. Officials say it is too structurally deficient to repurpose as a walking bridge or as part of a park.
Allan A. Myers LP of Worcester in Montgomery County was the general contractor for the project.