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New 15th Street Bridge Opens to Traffic

New 15th Street Bridge Opens to Traffic
Traveling north or south through Allentown got a lot easier this afternoon with the opening of the brand new 15th Street and Ward Street bridges.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski cut the ribbon to open the spans today and a classic 1948 Packard from America on Wheels museum owned by Dave Schomp of Bean Inc. in Easton and a 1952 Cadillac Model “62” sedan owned and driven by Richard Ziemer made the first trips across the bridge while a contingent of the Allen High School Band marched behind.  Pawlowski was assisted by State Senator Pat Browne, State Representative Mike Schlossberg and City Councilmembers Peter Schweyer and Joe Davis, Councilman-elect Daryl Hendricks and City Controller Mary Ellen Koval. 

The original 15th Street Bridge was built in 1957. It had been closed to northbound traffic since late 2010 due to deteriorated areas of the structure. A 10 ton weight limit was imposed in November 2010. The southbound lane was closed in August 2012 when demolition and reconstruction began.

The project is being completed on-time and on-budget.

“This is fantastic,” said Pawlowski. “We have been patiently waiting for this day to arrive. An estimated 20,000 vehicles a day have had to find another route for over two years. Those drivers and passengers will save some time and the aggravation of a detour while traversing this state-of-the-art bridge.”

The 15th Street Bridge over Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is an 89 foot single span composite pre-stressed concrete spread box beam bridge. It replaces a single span concrete bridge with a concrete deck.

The Ward Street Bridge over Little Lehigh Creek is a two span composite pre-stressed concrete bulb-tee bridge measuring 316 feet. It replaces a five span steel structure with a steel grate deck.

The new bridge is not weight restricted.

The overall project consists of more than 800,000 pounds of steel and 6000 cubic yards of concrete. Typically, there were 50-to-60 workers on the job at a time with more than 100 persons in all involved on site.

The bridge remains closed to pedestrians. A pedestrian handrail will be installed and the sidewalks will be opened in the spring. Concrete staining and nearby curbing will also be completed in the spring.

J.D. Eckman Inc. of Atglen, Pennsylvania serves as general contractor for the $8.4 million project. Funding for the project is 80% Federal, 15% State, and 5% City.

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