The Old Filetown Road Bridge in Bushkill Township may be coming down, not only due to its age and deteriorating condition but according to a preliminary engineering plan presented Thursday to the township's board of supervisors.
Senior Project Manager Carl McGloughlin of Borton Lawson Engineering of Bethlehem recommended closing the 75-year-old steel truss bridge and constructing a new access road at the eastern end of Old Filetown Road to access Filetown Road.
McGloughlin said the cost for bridge removal and new road construction complete with drainage pipes is approximately $450,000 compared to nearly $1 million for a complete bridge refurbishment and modernization.
The bridge is currently closed to vehicles weighing over 13 tons and has significant concrete damage.
The county has installed temporary support devices to prevent immediate collapse, however, explained McGloughlin, the bridge suffers from considerable deterioration requiring permanent repairs and even replacement.
Borton Lawson has found some bridges in both Northampton and Lehigh counties are too expensive to fix and unnecessary to completely replace as in the case of Old Filetown Road.
The proposed access road would cost less and be easier to maintain than refurbishing and/or replacing the truss bridge, said McGloughlin.
Currently the bridge serves to access only one residence on Old Filetown Road owned by Ken Sigafoos of Bushkill Township.
The sizeable property has been in the Sigafoos family since 1947, and the road in front of his property ends just shy of a full connection to Filetown Road that runs east to west and crosses over Route 33.
However, when McGloughlin asked for residents' feedback to the preliminary plan, both Zigafoos and next-door neighbor Bob Pierce cited several potential problems with the new plan.
First, stated Pierce and Sigafoos, the proposed four-foot-wide drainage culvert is not large enough to provide adequate drainage for Sigafoos's property once the new road extension is built.
Sigafoos said his property floods under normal condition, and the plan could possibly worsen his problem.
In addition, both men claim exiting at the end of the new extension road where it would meet Filetown Road would allow for a dangerous intersection due to ongoing speeding traffic traveling westbound and a lack of line of sight to oncoming vehicles.
Residents also expressed concerns over illegal hunting and underage drinking parties in the area and wondered how the new plan would affect these issues.
The supervisors and McGloughlin agreed the next step would be for the engineers to arrange an on-site meeting at the Sigafoos property to thoroughly evaluate drainage and flooding concerns before any action by the board could be taken.