The original Lehigh River and Pohopoco Creek bridges - located two miles north of the Lehigh Tunnel between mileposts 73 and 75 - opened to traffic Nov. 7, 1957 and were nearing the end of their intended design life of 50 years. The new structures, erected parallel to and west of the originals, are designed for a much longer lifespan of 75 years or more. The old bridges had a narrow median and shoulders, while the new ones include a six-foot left shoulder and a 12-foot right shoulder to increase safety for the nearly 30,000 motorists per day that travel through the ‘Gateway to the Poconos’.
"The new bridges offer a safety enhancement over the previous structures because they feature wider shoulders to the left and right of the travel lanes," Nutt explained. "The shoulders provide Turnpike motorists a buffer zone in case of an accident or breakdown – something the old bridges lacked."
– Former PTC CEO Roger Nutt
The $101.6 million project - located just south of the Mahoning Valley Interchange (Exit No. 74) on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Northeast Extension - involved replacement of two Northeastern Extension bridges with four new spans (northbound and southbound traffic is now carried on separate structures) that together equal about a mile of new bridge.
As the Construction Manager for the project, Urban performed a complete, contractor-type bottom-up estimate for the total demolition and reconstruction of the 1,530-foot long Lehigh River Bridges and 1,020-foot long Pohopoco Creek Bridge. These brides rise 75-120 feet over the Lehigh River and Canal, the Pohopoco Creek, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and State Route 248, which caused the Team to be innovative with a well-executed construction staging planMuch of the construction materials used for the project were procured locally. In fact, Rock Hill Concrete Inc., was the primary concrete supplier on the job, providing 36,000 cubic yards of concrete from a batch plant located directly below the work site. The structures featured 12 ft. diameter drilled shaft foundations, and 10 ft deep plate girders.
In 2012, this project was awarded the Grand Conceptor Award by the ACEC/PA Diamond Awards Committee. Even more importantly, the new bridges contributed to a safer and improved traffic flow on this heavily traveled portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.