Preserve history, say Skinners bridge advocates

Public comment period ends May 26

Posted 4/29/24

NARROWSBURG, NY — Something will be done about the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge, that much is for sure. And that something will fall into one of these categories:

A faithful …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Preserve history, say Skinners bridge advocates

Public comment period ends May 26


NARROWSBURG, NY — Something will be done about the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge, that much is for sure. And that something will fall into one of these categories:

  • A faithful restoration of the historic bridge;
  • A modern new bridge with elements of the 1902 original tacked on so that it looks like the old bridge;
  • A modern new bridge that looks like a modern new bridge;
  • No bridge at all, and the old one removed.

The “do nothing” option is not actually an option since it would result in the bridge collapsing into the Delaware, said Kate Farrow of NTM Engineering. Of the alternatives, the “traditional rehabilitation option comes first,” she said.

It was also the runaway favorite Thursday night among the crowd at the Narrowsburg Union, where they gathered to hear about plans for the beloved but decrepit bridge connecting Skinners Falls and Milanville. Lest anyone fail to get their message, a group of local residents marched in with a banner that said SAVE THE SKINNERS FALLS BRIDGE! as they merrily chanted, “Whose bridge? Our bridge!”

Not everyone was a fan of the all-historic, all-the-way option.

Gabriel and Floarea Vladu live right next to the bridge on the New York side. Gabriel said his preference for the middle option—a new bridge that looks like the original—comes from his experience in construction. “This business I know,” he said. “The bridge will look beautiful.”

The middle option will be cheaper, he said, and more practical. “You want the same stone and have it wash away?” he said. “It will look the same but be strong—stronger like it’s never been before.”

The information session had an open house format. Engineers and planners from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT), which has just published a commissioned study on the bridge, stood near easels that held posters with flow charts, photographs, and timelines. Members of the public skimmed the posters and chatted with PennDOT representatives and one other.

There wasn’t a chair to be found. Some attendees had expected a more conventional format—presenters facing an audience—and had come prepared to deliver statements.

“Divide and conquer,” said one attendee.

‘Outstandingly remarkable’

The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contributes to the “outstandingly remarkable values” of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Nels Raynor of Bach Ornamental and Structural Steel described the bridge as “an extremely rare example of a multi-span pin-connected Baltimore truss bridge” and “one of the oldest known bridges associated with the American Bridge Company.” She notes the geometric beauty of the truss configuration and ornate flower motifs and other decoration. 

The bridge was built with a nine-ton capacity that, as it deteriorated, was lowered to seven tons in 2007 and four tons in 2013. The bridge was closed to all traffic in 2019.

William Lothian has property on the New York and Pennsylvania sides of the river in the immediate vicinity of the bridge. In a prepared statement, he called the bridge “a historic treasure and one of probably only a few left in existence.” As a retired highway and traffic engineer, he believes the bridge could be reopened without delay: “The expertise of today’s engineers and contractors could have this existing bridge open to light traffic in a lot less time than doing years of study to satisfy some regulation that was not intended for a structure of this type.”

Of the options currently on the table, each has its benefits and drawbacks:

  • Traditional rehabilitation: To comply with standards set by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior (SOI), a rehabilitation that gave the bridge a capacity of four to seven tons would have a life of 10 to 15 years. An extensive rehabilitation that brought the capacity to 10 tons will have a 25-year life. Traditional rehabilitation is the only option that the study found would not have an adverse effect on the Milanville Historic District.
  • Non-SOI-compliant rehabilitation: This middle option would add the original trusses, which were built to support bridge, as a decorative element to the outside of a two-space steel girder. It would have no weight limit. Heather Gerling, an architectural historian with PennDOT, said the stone abutments would be difficult to preserve but that the original stones might be used as decorative facing on new abutments.
  • Full replacement: The full replacement option would also have no weight limit. Although no one seemed to be supporting this option, it’s the only one that would  accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The study says the current bridge “does not provide adequate accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, and recreational users.”

The public comment period for the bridge study began on April 11 and will conclude on May 26. Submit comments to, or mail them to Amy Lolli, PennDOT Assistant Liaison Engineer, Department of Transportation, District Office 4-0, 55 Keystone Industrial Park, Dunmore, PA 18512.

The study may be viewed online at or at the following locations: 

  • Wayne County Library (Honesdale branch), 1406 North Main Street, Honesdale, PA
  • Western Sullivan Public Library (Tusten-Cochecton branch), 198 Bridge Street, Narrowsburg, NY
  • Damascus Township Hall, 60 Conklin Rill Road, Damascus, PA
  • Town of Tusten Hall, 210 Bridge Street, Narrowsburg, NY
Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge, Kate Farrow, NTM Engineering, Gabriel and Floarea Vladu, nPA Department of Transportation (PennDOT), National Register of Historic Places, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Nels Raynor, Bach Ornamental and Structural Steel, Baltimore truss bridge, American Bridge Company, William Lothian, New York, Pennsylvania, traditional rehabilitation, Milanville Historic District, Heather Gerling, Amy Lolli


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here