Delaware River Viaduct

The Delaware River Viaduct is the sister bridge of the Paulinskill Viaduct on the Lackawanna Cut-Off rail line between eastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey. Built in 1908-10, this reinforced concrete bridge crosses the Delaware River about two miles (3 km) south of the Delaware Water Gap. It also crosses Slateford Road and the Lackawanna Railroad's "Old Road" (now Delaware-Lackawanna) on the west side of the river, and Interstate 80 on the east (New Jersey) side of the river at that location.

The bridge is 1,452 feet (443 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) high from water level to the top of the rail, and is composed of five 150-foot (46 m) spans and two 120-foot (37 m) spans. The footings were excavated down to bedrock, which ranges from 26 feet (7.9 m) to 53 feet (16 m) below the surface. A total of 51,376 cubic feet (1,454.8 m3) of concrete and 627 tons of reinforcing steel were used to construct this bridge.

Construction of the bridge was described in an article by Abraham Burton Cohen, then a draftsman for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, who later went on to design the Tunkhannock Viaduct, an even larger structure on the railroad's Summit-Hallstead Cutoff. The bridge was completed on December 1, 1910, about a year prior to the opening of the Cut-Off, which allowed construction trains to transport building materials to work sites east of the bridge.

Although the tracks were removed from the New Jersey portion of the Cut-Off by Conrail in 1984, the tracks remained on the Delaware River Viaduct until March 1989, when they were removed.

The viaduct has the distinction of being the largest reinforced concrete structure to have been built with a continuous pour process. In view of this, a legend has persisted that several workers lost their lives, and are buried in the bridge, because they fell into the concrete during construction and could not be saved because of the continuous pour process. While there is no evidence that this actually occurred, history books are silent on this point and neither support nor refute the oft-repeated story.

NJ Transit is in the planning stages for restoration of rail service along this line into Pennsylvania. According to their studies, the bridge has suffered severe deterioration and will need extensive rehabilitation, making this the most expensive part of the project.


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