The Stites Tunnel Bridge reconstruction on PA 191, over Paradise Creek in Pocono Township, is now expected to be completed by May 2020.
“We have residents at our board meetings complain about the horrendous traffic and speeding on Bog Road,” said Gerald Lastowski, Commissioner of Pocono Township. “One woman complained at several meetings, and then her husband’s truck was hit and totaled because people are speeding and don’t know the curves in the road. It’s just so dangerous for our citizens.”
PennDOT started the project to replace the PA 191 Stites Tunnel Bridge in January 2019 and had estimated completion by end of year. However, they reported delays due to water infiltration inside the tunnel. Colder weather in the fall and winter also limited the amount of work performed and therefore causing project to take longer than anticipated.
The work includes replacing the PA 191 Bridge over Paradise Creek and bridge roadway approach structures, installing new guard rails and fresh line paint, and concrete repairs to the roadway tunnel under the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad.
H&K Group, Inc. of Skippack, Pa is the general contractor for this $8,087,885 project.
Ronald Young, PennDOT District Press Officer said PA 191 remains closed with detours between PA 447 and Stites Mountain Road. The posted passenger vehicle detour utilizes PA 715 and Clubhouse/Cherry Lane Road. A separate posted truck detour routes truck traffic on PA 447 and PA 390.
By closing the stone bridge tunnel on routes 191 and 447, which connects Stroud Township with Paradise and Barrett townships, PennDOT forced over 5,300 vehicles of local traffic to take a seven mile detour around the construction.
“The Stites Tunnel closure causes a lot of people that know the back roads, to use them,” said Lastowski. “GPS is also sending people through these small, windy roads that weren’t built for the amount of traffic that is now on them.”
The Stites Tunnel Bridge, which has been known as the Spragueville High Bridge, is a steel girder bridge that was constructed in 1911 and reconstructed in 1941.
The old bridge was 533 feet long, 35 feet wide, and was posted with a 9-ton weight restriction (17-tons for combination vehicles). The new bridge will be a concrete box culvert that is 345 feet long, 33 feet wide and will have no restrictions.
“I just wish PennDOT would put more resources on this project, to get it done as quickly as possible and alleviate the pressure on our back roads,” said Lastowki. “We are looking to put up more speed warning signs and signs to slow down before major curve ahead. It’s dangerous when people go so fast, considering the conditions of these roads.”
Young said if weather conditions permit, final paving is scheduled for April, with final pavement markings completed and opening the bridge in early May after final inspections of the work.