The Meadows Road Bridge in Lower Saucon Township has been closed since early April due to its deterioration, but hope for a new crossing is alive.
Lower Saucon Township Council learned Wednesday that Northampton County–which owns the 1858 stone arch bridge near Rt. 412–has resumed full ownership of the bridge after it was put into a third-party program called P3.
Township manager Leslie Huhn said the county was also successful in having the bridge added to the state’s Twelve Year Transportation Program (TYP), which means preliminary engineering work related to its repair or replacement will be funded and can begin this year.
Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon asked Huhn whether the county’s plan is to rehabilitate or replace the single-lane humpback bridge across the Saucon Creek, south of Hellertown.
“I don’t know that officially,” Huhn said. “I’ll let you know as soon as I hear.”
The township has told the county that its preference is for the existing bridge to be rehabilitated, even though many state and county officials have taken a dim view of its historic and architectural significance, in part because of how it has been repaired over the years.
DeLeon herself noted that the black metal “circles” on the sides of the bridge are actually repurposed sewer covers.
Huhn said the TYP program typically requires a 20 percent funding match.
She said county officials told her the source of that funding will need to be “sorted out,” which led deLeon to question whether the township could legally help fund the project even if it wanted to.
“I don’t think the second class code allows us to pay for things that aren’t ours,” deLeon said.
Huhn added that a possible realignment of the bridge from its current position was also brought up at the recent meeting between township and county officials.
“We’ll keep an eye on that,” she said.
Even if the bridge project is fast-tracked and limited delays are encountered, a reopening of that crossing is at least several years away, according to various sources.
That means the bridge will likely still be closed next summer when the Water Street Bridge–about a mile north in Hellertown–is closed for two months for its replacement.
Further north, another aged county-owned bridge across the Saucon Creek–the Seidersville Road Bridge in the City of Bethlehem–has been closed for more than seven years, with no plans for replacement per the county.