By George

NPP’s Valley Forge crossing celebrates Washington’s bridge builder

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards joined National Park Service and other federal, state and local officials for a late-summer opening of the $9.2-million Sullivan’s Bridge. The 14-ft. wide, 604-ft. long bicycle and pedestrian trail structure spans the Schuylkill River in Valley Forge National Historical Park, near Philadelphia.

Sullivan’s Bridge comprises 12 bulb tee girders, 71-in. deep, just over 150 ft. long and fabricated by Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC of Cressona, Pa. The four-span structure is named for Major General John Sullivan, who was charged by General George Washington with building a Schuylkill River crossing during the Continental Army’s 1777-78 Valley Forge winter encampment.

“The National Park Service is observing its 100th anniversary, and what better way than to open this wonderful bridge that will be a linchpin in connecting the park with all the people who use hundreds of miles of regional trails,” said Valley Forge Park Superintendent Kate Hammond at a dedication ceremony.

Sullivan’s Bridge features a midpoint observation area from which trail users can view the Schuylkill River and national park setting. Opened after nearly 30 months of construction, the crossing becomes a critical link in the regional, interconnected Circuit Trails network. The park location further connects the Circuit Trails between Montgomery and Chester Counties in eastern Pennsylvania. Prior to Sullivan’s Bridge, pedestrians and bicyclists crossed the Schuylkill River on a 4.5-ft. wide boardwalk path on the west side of U.S. 422.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards (right) joins a colleague emulating Continental Army Major General John Sullivan to officially open the Schuykill River pedestrian and cyclist crossing. Sullivan’s Bridge is part of the Schuylkill River Crossing Complex of transportation improvement projects supporting multi-modal travel on U.S. 422, northwest of Philadelphia. PHOTOS: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (ribbon-cutting); Boles, Smyth Associates (bridge perspectives)
Northeast Prestressed Products’ launch beam helped erection crews off to a safe, timely start. Nearly uniform elevation on both sides of the Schuykill River enabled project engineers to detail a four-span crossing around abutments, three piers and three runs of 150.5-ft. prestressed concrete girders.

J.D. Eckman, Inc. of Chester County was the general contractor on the 100 percent federally-funded project. Sullivan’s Bridge engineering and design were managed under a local agreement between Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Upper Merion Transportation Authority, in close coordination with Upper Merion and West Norriton Townships, plus the National Park Service. CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS: Boles, Smyth Associates