PennDOT is being asked to retain a temporary construction access to the Delaware River at Pond Eddy, for emergency rescue operations.

NARROWSBURG, NY - PennDOT is being asked to retain a temporary construction access to the Delaware River at Pond Eddy, for emergency rescue operations.

Lumberland Volunteer Fire Department hopes to be allowed to keep the access put in for the building of the new Pond Eddy bridge. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) expects to have that project completed in October 2018. The matter was discussed at the September 6 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

Nadia Rajsz, the UDC’s Town of Lumberland representative, reported on the meeting she and emergency response officials had with Carla Medura, Assistant Construction Executive of PennDOT District #4. Medura was asked to leave the road that PennDOT built out with rocks.

Rajsz said that the PennDOT official wasn’t generally favorable, but indicated she (Medura) would discuss it further with New York DOT and the National Park Service.

“We all got the feeling this wasn’t a very positive end result,” Rajsz said. “I think their contract is forcing them to remove all the stones from the river after the build-out of the bridge.”

In addition, the Park Service wants to bring it back to its environmental state.

Rajsz related that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation apparently only made a limited environmental review since this was only to be a temporary road.

“The fire department really just wants a road into the river for emergency access,” Rajsz said. “It’s four miles one way, I believe five miles another way before they have access into the river, just because of safety issues especially when there is a drowning, and they’re trying to get to that individual or individuals and to rescue them.”

The fire department would have a locked gate to prevent the access to be used for recreational purposes on the river.

“So we’re between a rock and a hard place,” Rajsz summed.

Aaron Robinson, UDC’s chairman and Shohola Township representative, commented that the cost of removing the rocks may exceed the value of the rocks. David Dean, UDC’s Town of Deerpark representative, said that the contractor might be happy to leave the rocks, but not the workers who would be paid to remove the rocks.

Dean expressed doubt that the stones would be left.

The site is very shallow and weedy, and not conducive for a recreational access, Robinson observed - unlike at the Barryville bridge where an access was made.

Hahn added that there is a bend in the river at Pond Eddy which tends to direct water to the New York side. The concern is that the road eventually would be washed out by the current.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as the National Park Service would need to look into it. “It’s a federal case,” Robinson said.

The UDC sent a letter to PennDOT asking for a response about the feasibility of this request.

The new truss bridge has been installed immediately upstream from the 1904 truss bridge. The reported $17.5 million project caps an effort that was debated for around 20 years, to provide for the dozen or so homes on the Pond Eddy, PA (Shohola Township, Pike County) side which have no other vehicular access.

The old bridge, with a wooden deck, was posted with a seven-ton weight limit several years ago due to its condition. Heavy vehicles such as fire engines and fuel trucks cannot reach the Pennsylvania side, as a result.

Once the new, concrete bridge is done, the old span will be torn down in October or November.

The project finally was started in 2016.

The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY.