After 26 years in the making, the new Mansion House Bridge was dedicated this morning in Jim Thorpe, connecting 165 miles of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
The $4.1 million project connects D&L Trail users to the business district in the downtown. Although the bridge was dedicated, it is only open for several hours until it will be closed this afternoon for a bit longer for finishing touches on its construction.
“We’ve worked passionately as a heritage area for the last 30 years to bring us to this historic moment,” said Elissa Garofalo, executive director of the D&L National Heritage Corridor.
The 250-foot steel truss bridge with a wooden deck, spanning the Lehigh River, helps fill one of the last remaining gaps along the trail in Carbon County. The trail spans from Easton to Wilkes-Barre.
“The bridge will soon connect travelers without contributing to traffic, and provide an economic engine for this community,” Garofalo said.
Only one other piece of the D&L Trail remains unfinished in Carbon County, a section in Bowmanstown.
The event started with the United Veterans unfurling of the flags followed by the first crossing of the bridge by the Jim Thorpe Bike Team and 300 Rails-to-Trails Pennsylvania Sojourn Bicyclists.
Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and James Ritzman, deputy secretary of Planning for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, also spoke at the event, as did local dignitaries.
The bridge and D&L Trail will be open for public use today until 2 p.m. The retaining wall and trail project on the east side of the Lehigh River are not complete. Garofalo said that final part of the project soon will be completed.
The county owns the bridge and is responsible for maintenance costs.
The project was conceived in the D&L’s 1992 Management Action Plan and was funded by a grant from the PennDOT. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provided funding for engineering and design. The through-truss bridge was assembled and installed by Latona Trucking of Pittston.