Schuylkill River Bridge (SR 2077, Section 01B)

Location: Amity and Union Townships, Berks County, PA

Owner: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

 Schuylkill River Bridge 1CCJM provides bridge rehabilitation design maintaining historic river crossing.

In the early 1700’s a small Swedish Settlement was established in what would be known as Berks County, adjacent to a location where the Schuylkill River was shallow enough to cross. A bridge, erected in 1832, provided the only crossing at the time for those traveling to the Oley Valley region. The double lane Douglassville covered-bridge was serviced by a custodian and toll-keeper who would hang lanterns on each end of the bridge and, in winter, to shovel snow into the structure so that sleighs could traverse the river. This structure, the last wooden bridge spanning the Schuylkill River, was finally replaced in 1951.

When CCJM was retained to rehabilitate the 1951 structure, we learned that the bridge still provided critical access to a large annual gathering at the Historic Morlattan Village—the Mouns Jones Plantation Day. Construction was carefully coordinated to ensure that access was sustained for this important regional event celebrating nearly 300 years of continuous history in this area.

CCJM’s rehabilitation study for this 6-span steel I-beam bridge resulted in reconstruction of the tops of piers and abutments, replacement of the one pier that supported fixed bearings and complete replacement of the steel I-beams and deck. During construction, careful coordination with local utility owners resulted in construction staging that ensured uninterrupted service.

Schuylkill River Bridge 3Detailed environmental studies in the project area identified the potential presence of the Eastern Redbelly Turtle (Pseudemys rubriventris), a threatened species, and one of Pennsylvania’s largest turtles. Since suitable nesting sites were found nearby, avoidance measures were implemented to ensure no disturbance for this endangered species.

The recently completed rehabilitated structure has 5-foot shoulders for improved connectivity of pedestrians and cyclists from Union Township to the Leaf Creek and Thun Trails which are located across the River. Both trails are accommodated by the Douglassville Railroad Bridge, located 0.25 miles north, which was also designed by CCJM. These two new bridges are designed to provide another century of uninterrupted travel across the Schuylkill River for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and for visitors to the historic Village of Morlattan.