Feb 6, 2015

Allentown's 8th Street Bridge Project

When the bridge was built in 1912, it was the largest of its type in the world. General Trexler and his Portland Cement Company built the bridge to connect the trolley service from center city Allentown to points south, all the way to Philadelphia. Trexler was also a principal in the trolley company. PennDOT is now doing the first major renovation to the bridge in a century, and I am sorry to report it seems very compromised. While the shorter approaches from both ends are being completely replaced, the longer middle section remains. It appears as if they choose to replace those sections because they're not as high off the ground. The broken rubble from those sections, which could be examined last year on Harrison Street, showed dense concrete, in excellent shape. The bridge in 1912 was a showcase for the new Lehigh Portland Cement Company, and the pride of both Allentown and Trexler. If the high middle sections are still structurally sound, I suspect the approaches were also. I've been told by sources that PennDOT is having trouble with binding the new roadbed to the old concrete. In addition to the binding issue, the new roadbed is higher, adding additional weight to the high arches. Lastly, the bridge to being altered architecturally, by removing the signature walls. This change is supposed to accommodate new walls designed for suicide prevention. I would think that a barrier could have been designed and fastened to the classic existing walls.


Anonymous said...

So Harry Trexler was the JB Reilly of his day, interesting.

Native said...

I wonder if the local naysayers and know-it-alls in General Trexler's time were suspicious and jealous of his endeavors, which, back then, were rife with insider connections and vested interest (like JB) but today are hailed as visionary and philanthropic even. I also wonder if Molovinsky will publish this comment, I highly doubt it.

Anonymous said...

More power to J.B.Reilly if He donates thousands of acres of His property for the public enjoyment as did The General

michael molovinsky said...

blog mentor @7:21 and 8:27, i published both your comments. i wonder how antagonists like you stalked before cybertime. while i question public policy, your entire days are devoted to personal attacks.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:44, many of trexler's endeavors were self-serving, even regarding the park system. he was, among many other ventures, a real estate developer, who profited from the cedar creek park, from both the hamilton park and west end neighborhoods.

to my knowledge, there has never been a public/private arrangement as lucrative as the NIZ. what reilly's public legacy will be remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

I think you are mistaken when it comes to the walls. The new ones have already been poured and look exactly like the original ones. Yes I will agree with you that when the anti suicide fence installed it will look different. But the style of the walls along with the obelisk pillars will remain to look the same. I can say this because I drive over that bridge daily and I can see the new concrete.

Rich Fegley said...

Thanks for this update on the bridge. I've been noticing that the new roadbed was significantly higher than the old roadbed.

The new railing have posts that are thicker/wider and the gaps/openings between the are much smaller/more narrow.

I didn't realize that most of the concrete was still original. I would have liked to have been able to get one of those obelisks.

No one seems to give a shit about things like Allentown's magnificent Eighth Street Bridge. I have have a beautiful view of the bridge from my back porch.

I guess we will wait to see what PennDOT gives us in the end.

monkey momma said...

Thanks for giving us some insight into this bridge. Your statement that the "the new roadbed is higher, adding additional weight to the high arches" is ominous.

Bill said...

It is still quite an amazing structure. Lets hope the engineers of our day are good custodians of this treasure, and that the properly accounted for the changes in the load bearing arches given the extra weight. No doubt I will consider this as I drive across the bridge in the future.

As far as JB Reilly and the inner circle of government gained wealth, it gives new meaning to the old Animal Farm quote "all animals are equal, but some animals are MORE EQUAL than others." And in respect to who are leaders listen to, it will be those who fund (and benefit from) the new PAC, the rest of us can just pay our taxes and suck it up. Starting to lose hope for independent elected officials but will cast my votes for such voices on either side of the political isle wherever I can find them.

Anonymous said...

Comrade Molovinsky,

The more roads that lead directly to the transformative Pawlowski Palace of Sport, the better.

Forward to Progress!


Col. Viktor Tikhonov
Soviet Red Army (ret)