An old bridge that served the Jim Thorpe, Pa., area for decades recently carried one last load – thanks to a creative, cost-saving idea.

We recently replaced a 1,200-foot span of distribution line in Jim Thorpe that crosses a state route, the Lehigh River and two sets of railroad tracks. The project also included replacement of poles and guy wires on either side.

Through collaboration and good timing, we were able to run a temporary bypass cable over an old bridge that used to carry state Route 903 across the river. A new bridge opened July 1, but the old bridge had not yet been demolished at the time of the project.

This solution preserved reliable service and saved money compared to the alternative – installing two temporary generators on the east side of the river. (Finding ways to reduce our operating costs helps keep rates reasonable.)

“Thanks to the cooperation of PennDOT and its contractors, we were able to coordinate use of the old bridge during a limited period of availability,” said Ed Johnson, reliability supervisor.

The new steel poles and arms, along with new wire for the crossing, will help us continue to provide reliable service to almost 1,700 customers in the eastern part of Jim Thorpe.  The old poles were installed in 1952, and failure of either structure or the wire crossing could have resulted in a prolonged outage for these customers.

The project began with crews that responded last year to an accident and system damage elsewhere in the area. The crews called attention to the condition of the old poles.

Johnson credited Senior Engineer Andy Elliston, Supervising Engineer Dan Benedict, Long Range Planner Mark DeBellis, Manager-Regional Work Management Chris Stamatedes, and Construction Supervisor Tom Donato for their collaboration on various stages of the project.