The aged and crumbling Water Street Bridge is in its final days as a work of engineering that still fulfills a vital purpose: namely, transporting thousands of vehicles daily across the Saucon Creek, between Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township.
On Thursday, borough officials announced that the 81-year-old span will be closed beginning Thursday, July 11, so a long-planned replacement project can commence.
The two-lane steel I-beam bridge is being replaced because it is both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
The current bridge was built in 1938, is 117 feet long and is used by an average of more than 7,900 motorists each day, according to PennDOT’s interactive bridge conditions map.
The contract for the new bridge has been awarded by PennDOT to Kriger Construction of Dickson City, Lackawanna County, which will have 60 days to complete the project–barring any delays caused by inclement weather–or face penalties, borough officials said.
That means the target opening date for the bridge will be Monday, Sept. 9 or earlier.
Schools will open for the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 26, meaning Saucon Valley school buses will have to detour around the closed bridge at the start of the new school year.
It was previously announced that the new bridge will include a walkway that will connect Hellertown’s Water Street Park with new sidewalk leading from the west side of the bridge to the intersection of Friedensville Road (Water Street) and Creek Road. From there, pedestrians will be able to cross Creek Road and continue walking on the pathway that leads to Saucon View Apartments and Lehigh University’s graduate housing.
Additional details about the bridge closure and the detour will be shared by the borough via their email alert system and social media pages following a meeting that will be held with PennDOT and the contractor.
- Subscribe to the Borough of Hellertown’s email notification list.
- Follow the Borough of Hellertown on Facebook.
- Follow the Borough of Hellertown on Twitter.
The impending bridge closure also forced the relocation of this year’s Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market–which is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday–to the field next to the Hellertown Area Library.
About a mile south of the Water Street Bridge, the Northampton County-owned Meadows Road Bridge in Lower Saucon Township has been closed since April 2018 due to structural problems.
Built in 1858, the single-lane humpback bridge will be rehabilitated or replaced, the county has said. However, no plans or replacement timeline have yet been made public.
About a mile to the north of the Water Street Bridge, the Seidersville Road bridge in the City of Bethlehem also remains closed.
Also owned by Northampton County, that bridge dates from the 1930s and was closed due to structural deficiency in 2011. The county has said it has no plans to repair or replace the metal truss bridge.