Oct 8, 2013

Barbarians At The Bridge

Although both Cunningham and Pawlowski hosted celebrations of our regional birthdays this year, neither cares about our history, nor do their minions. Glenn Solt, Lehigh County's project manager, and supposedly aspiring County Executive, seems contemptuous of our history. He repeatedly claimed that the 188 year old Reading Road Bridge is neither historic or unique. He states that there were 14 such bridges in the county when he began his watch. Unfortunately, for our history, this is the only one that this blog has concerned itself with. When the effort to preserve the bridge began, Cunningham said that if the community wanted to keep the bridge, the plans could be modified; But, by this past Wednesday, Solt was putting on a full court press for a new bridge. Perhaps, he sees the aggressive bridge replacement program as an accomplishment for a future political campaign. Downstream, Schreibers Bridge is now being jeopardized by Pawlowski. Because Allentown allowed the beams on the 15th Street Bridge to rust away from lack of paint, the northbound traffic now uses Schreibers, another stone arch bridge, also 188 years old. Car and trucks now line up for a block to cross the historic bridge. Three weeks ago, I personally informed Pawlowski that an outside stone on the northwest approach had come off, and others were being stressed. When the 15th Street Bridge is closed this summer for replacement, the traffic flow on Schreibers will be overbearing. History is more than blowing out a candle at Agriculture Hall, or hosting a dinner at the Holiday Inn.

The old postcard shows Schreibers Mill from the east. Although the mill has been gone since the beginning of the 20th Century, the bridge in background is still serving Allentown.

reprinted from March 11, 2012

UPDATE: Since this post  appeared in March of 2012, there has been some changes on the political scene;  Don Cunningham resigned his position as County Executive, and Scott Ott and Tom Muller are running to fill that position for the new term starting in January 2014.  Although the Commissioners did grant the bridge a reprieve from demolition last winter, the bridge's future is once again in jeopardy. State guidelines have changed, and bridges with 3 Ton limits are now slated for closure and/or demolition.  Muller and assorted Democratic candidates for Commissioner are using the bridge as a campaign issue, saying that it should have already been replaced.  Missing from their self serving opportunism is any awareness of the historical significance of the bridge.  Because the bridge is not on an official historical register, Glenn Solt actually stated that the bridge is not historically significant.  On the original route between Easton and Reading, it's one of the most historically significant bridges in Pennsylvania, and an icon of Lehigh County.  Meanwhile, downstream, it's sister Schreibers Bridge also faces the 3 Ton State mandate.  Schreibers has been carrying truck after truck this past  two years, including fire trucks, as it provides the detour for the new 15th Street Bridge under construction. It's approach walls have been repeatedly smashed by tractor trailers trying to turn off the bridge onto Martin Luther King Drive.  Both bridges need to be preserved.  The historical significant of these bridges to our community should not fall victim to  blind general state mandates or local politics.

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