High Street Bridge Closed to Traffic

The closure of the 1910 timber bridge along Hellertown's western border has further restricted access to points west of the Saucon Creek.

Access between northern parts of Hellertown and points west of the Saucon Creek has been further restricted, following a decision to close the 101-year-old High Street Bridge that spans an old Norfolk-Southern rail line culvert.

The High Street Bridge is located entirely within the City of Bethlehem, but its eastern entrance sits on the Bethlehem-Hellertown municipal boundary.

According to an article published Saturday in the Express-Times, city officials cited structural deficiencies as the reason for closure of the narrow span.

Constructed in 1910 out of timber, the High Street Bridge was already labeled "structurally deficient" by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) prior to the recent closure.

However, at that time PennDOT Safety Officer for Engineering District 5 Sean Brown emphasized that local bridges labeled as being "structurally deficient" would not be kept open if they were found to be unsafe during routine safety inspections.

According to PennDOT, a bridge's sufficiency rating is a calculated score indicative of "its ability to meet the traffic demands and safety needs for the route it carries."

A bridge is considered to be entirely sufficient if its structural sufficiency rating is 100, and it is considered to be entirely deficient if its structural sufficiency rating is 0.

When the state requests federal funding for bridge replacement or reconstruction, bridges with low sufficiency ratings are eligible for more funds, and bridges with ratings of 49 or less are eligible for replacement funding.

Prior to its closure, the High Street Bridge had a 3-ton posted weight limit and allowed westbound traffic from Hellertown access to Ravena Street in Bethlehem and points beyond.

Via Ravena Street, motorists were able to reach the Fire Lane bridge across the Saucon Creek, just beyond the intersection of Ravena and Silvex Road under I-78.

As a result of the High Street Bridge closure, motorists headed west from the north end of Hellertown will need to drive north on Route 412 and turn left onto Silvex Road in order to cross the Saucon Creek via the Fire Lane bridge.

Meanwhile, residents of Ravena Street have found themselves living on a temporarily dead-end street, thanks to the closure of both the High Street Bridge and the Seidersville Road metal truss bridge ealier this year.

The two closed bridges sit on either side of the south end of Ravena Street, which runs from north to south and is sandwiched in between the old rail culvert on the east and the Saucon Creek on the west.

High Street becomes Seidersville Road on the west side of the High Street Bridge, in the City of Bethlehem.

The Seidersville Road bridge, which was built in 1936 and spans the Saucon Creek, had provided a direct motor route between the north end of Hellertown and Creek Road in Bethlehem, before officials closed it following a safety inspection over the winter.

JoAnne Stull June 21, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Mary Anne, Now I understand where you are coming from. You obviously do not live on the affected streets, so you really do not understand Josh's point. What you say may be true for non residents of Ravena Street or Seidersville Rd, but it is certainly not true for those of us who live here. This area is Bethlehem, not Hellertown. We rely on the Bethlehem PD, Fire department and ambulance. I can tell you for a fact that they already have issues getting to this part of Seidersville Road. I had to call an ambulance a few years ago (before any of the bridges were closed) and it took them a very long time to get here. When they finallly arrived, they apologized and told me that they had gone to the "wrong Seidersville Road". Josh, you are absolutely spot on. We residents on the affected roads are in trouble if we have an emergency and need the police, ambulance or fire department. I pray to god that we never do.
Mary Anne Looby June 21, 2011 at 12:33 AM
JoAnne, I was aware that the lines between Hellertown and Bethlehem are blurred in some areas. I did not know That your street or Seidersville was affected by it.I Still have to disagree. the lack of service from Bethlehem to those areas has long been a sore spot.When the park and ride was built it was a disaster for the first 5 years. Constant complaints to the Beth Police finally got some response. No one was more shocked to find out that this is Bethlehem property. In the first five years communters would come home to smashed windows, cars broken into, tires slashed. This was multplie nights a week. Hellertown refused to anything and Bethlehem gave us a grunt and drive by occasionally. Finally someone got to some higher ups in Harrisburg and Bethlehem had to step up. Lights were installed, cameras were installed. It helped but I am sure there is still stuff that happen. My husband stoped leaving his car there, I drove him every morning and picked him up in the evening. I feel for you, you're kind of living in no mans land. I think the boundraries should be changed to incorporate some of those areas into Lower Saucon. But the bridge closing should still not be a problem. A firetruck, ambulance etc from South Bethlehem should be able to get to you via 412, unless you are on the other side of the bridge in which case they should be able to reach you via Mountain Drive and Lehigh Drive. I would blame the poor service on the providers rather than a closed bridge.
Mary Anne Looby June 21, 2011 at 12:44 AM
Joanne, one quick question, You said that you lived on these streets, Does Josh also live there? I am guessing you live in the town houses on Ravena that are somewhat newer? We watched them being built. At that time the street was not even a street, more of a rocky alleyway leading to the park area. I guess my question to you is if Josh doesn't live there , why is his point valid? I agree that you are getting substandard service from Bethlehem, but that is an issue you need to take up with City Council. I suggest that you write a petition with an emergency service route designed by you and your neighbors and submit it to city council, the mayors office the Chief of Police and The Firedepartment. No one know your area better than you. Press for it, it the long run it will be helpful for the city and for you. Then if the bridges are out, and stay out you have a back up plan. Take action now.
dave saltzer June 21, 2011 at 01:41 AM
This is a joke. People that do not live in the area have no clue. The park and ride traffic is s mess have you ever tried to make a turn on 412 from silvex. How about college drive you have to drive all the way around to get to the middle of hellertown. How about the bus stop for kids being moved to silvex and Ravena and the people running the lights on the bus and flying through the tunnel. How about the people parking in our driveways and the middle of the street. Emergency services to get to the area, at least a 12 min eta because as Joanna said this is the city not dewey or sewyco. The rate fire spreads and the administration of an aed and CPR in minutes will never happen due to lack of city services and now the closure of 2 bridges. Ravena is a mess with parking on both sides of the street and it takes forever to get around the block, but I'm glad you feel it will help with traffic obviously you have no clue where we are.
Mary Anne Looby June 21, 2011 at 10:23 AM
78 is not the problem. Back ups on 412 caused, primarily by the work being done to enhance traffic patterns to the casino, has been an ongoing problem, plus the consturciton for the industrial park on 412 hasn't helped. The land that wendys sits on should never have been sold that kind of business, and the turkery hill should have a major over haul. The park and ride which was originally desinged for commuters into NYC have become a place for hard hat car pooling. I live across from Lehigh and for the first 3 years that we lived there wer had people parking in our side yard to get to the games. After being fed up, I called the cops had the vehicles towed. If people are pariking on your property to fish, have them towed, or at the very least fined.


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