2008-11-06 / Front Page

Cowans Gap Bridge Getting "Spruce-Up"

Parts of old CCC bridge being replaced

Cowans Gap Bridge Getting "Spruce-Up"

Bridge abutments on this bridge at Cowans Gap State Park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the early 1930s. Although the bridge deck is being replaced, the abutments will remain and will be repointed. The bridge, located at the southern end of the lake, leads to Campground "B."
Nearly seven years after extensive renovations and updates were made to Cowans Gap State Park, the park is now undergoing some minor "sprucing up," according to park manager Steve Behe.

Although this project is much smaller than the renovations done in 2002, its main focus is the replacement of the bridge over Aughwick Creek at the southern end of the lake. The bridge leads to Camping Area B of the park or what is sometimes referred to as the "old camping area."

George S. Hann & Son, Fort Littleton, was awarded the low construction bid for the $191,288 project that began in early October of this year and is expected to be completed by April 1, 2009. Wen-Brooke Contracting of Three Springs submitted the second lowest bid for $208,239. Two additional higher bids were submitted by Jay Fulkroad & Sons, McAlisterville, Pa., and Cottles Asphalt Maintenance, Everett.

The bridge being replaced was built in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was a work-relief program initiated by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression and much work was done at that time at Cowans Gap.

Although there was some work done on the bridge about 10 years ago, Behe said that weight limits remained a problem with regard to hauling stone and rocks over it as well as the increased size and weight of recreational vehicles using the campground. The old bridge had a limit of 17 tons while the new bridge, Behe said, will have no weight limits.

According to Behe, the original bridge abutments built by the CCC will remain in place but will be repointed. The bridge deck, which has now been removed, will be completely replaced and the new one will have guardrails and new signage. In addition to the new bridge, the project also includes replenishing sand on the beach and lake to maintain similar depth throughout the swimming area. Another set of buoys have also been added to mark the fivefoot depth mark while the existing buoys mark the six-foot depth.

In order to replace the bridge, the lake has been drawn down six feet, but Behe said the park still welcomes visitors and fishermen. He said the lake was stocked last Friday with 1,250 trout and was also recently stocked with fingerling catfish.

The road to the B campground and to the boat launch area will remain closed until the bridge is completed. Behe said the biggest inconvenience is for hikers and hunters. Lakeside Trail, at this time, comes to an abrupt end at the bridge and visitors are being asked to stay at least 100 feet clear of the construction area.

More than $3 million in improvements to Cowans Gap began in 2002 and closed the park for well over a year while all restrooms and shower facilities were replaced. Other improvements included a new lifeguard station, fishing pier and upgrades to the cabins. The lake was also drawn down at that time and dredged. "People like Cowans Gap State Park," Behe said, "and those upgraded amenities made it like new." He said that high gas prices and economic woes did not diminish the number of people using the park this past summer.

In the meantime, Behe said that while it is still early in the project, it appears that construction is on schedule. He said that seven months set for the project's completion in order to allow for ordering of supplies and possible inclement weather during the winter months. He also stressed that the park remains open to visitors and will remain open throughout the project's duration.

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