The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - Closing PA’s #1 Trail Gap…

Post by: Lauren Golden, D&L Trail & Stewardship Manager

Work on the Carbon County Pedestrian Bridge in Jim Thorpe continues! Or should we start calling it the Mansion House Bridge, in consideration of this location’s historic features?

For those of you who follow our projects closely, you’ve heard us compare the completion of the D&L Trail to a jigsaw puzzle.  We talk of building this connection and its importance as the #1 statewide trail gap. In terms of closing the gap, the bridge is the biggest puzzle piece, but the overall gap has three separate pieces.

The bridge will connect the eastern and western banks of the Lehigh River near the former site of the Mansion House Hotel (part of it still stands and is a popular beer distributor).  The historic pedestrian bridge, which used to carry pedestrians from (a now demolished) LVRR train station on the East Side of Jim Thorpe to the Mansion House Hotel.

Historic photo of the mansion house bridge in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Historic photo of the Mansion House Bridge in Jim Thorpe.

Most of the canal infrastructure from the days of the Mansion House Bridge are gone, but the lock (Lock #1) remains. When excavation for the new bridge began, our contractor discovered the footing of former wing of Lehigh Canal Dam #1, adjacent to Lock #1, was still intact underground! With the help of PennDOT’s Cultural Resources and Archeology staff, we’ve been discovering some really fascinating new facts about the way Dam #1 was constructed and just how massive the structure was. More on that to follow, but if you’ve thought that work on the east side of the river seemed a little slow, now you know why.

With the bridge underway, we’re turning our attention to the two other parts of the “Jim Thorpe Gap” I mentioned earlier. Improving the connection to the bridge on both sides of the river is necessary so that both sides meet our multi-use and ADA accessible trail standards. Last year, the Carbon County Commissioners hired a firm to study the connection through the Carbon County parking lot (adjacent to the current train station on the west bank) looking to create safer interactions between vehicles and pedestrians in the parking lot. We hope to help implement some of the study results.

Future location of the New Mansion House Bridge that will connect the D&L Trail in Jim Thorpe.

This map shows the former location of the Mansion House Bridge (bottom) and the future location of the New Mansion House Bridge (in yellow).

On the east side of the river, the D&L is partners with the Borough of Jim Thorpe to improve the trail connection to the bridge and southward, adjacent to the Borough’s water treatment plant. When new Mansion House Bridge is finished, an unimproved graded switchback trail will provide an unimproved connection from the bridge to the trail.  It will serve as a temporary connection until final permits are awarded for a more permanent section of trail. Once permits are awarded and a contractor is selected, this section of trail will once again be closed to trail users so a retaining wall can be constructed to support an elevated trail. The new elevated trail will serve multiple purposes.  It will create a gentle slope connecting the Weissport Canal section of trail to the bridge, and it will also provide flood protection for the trail and the Jim Thorpe Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Questions? Contact Lauren: [email protected] or (610) 923 – 3548 x227.