Columbia/Wrightsville Bridge Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of the world’s once-longest concrete multi-arch bridge

  • Owner: PennDOT District 8-0
  • Location: Lancaster and York Counties, PA

About this Project

The existing structure carries PA 0426 over the Susquehanna River, SR 0624, and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. Built in 1929, the bridge is historic and is host to multiple annual events within the local communities. The goals of this project are to preserve the historic character of the bridge, improve bridge aesthetics, minimize disruption of community events while also enhancing recreational use and tourism of the surrounding area, and to reduce impacts from seasonal swarms of mayflies on the bridge.

American Engineers Group, LLC (AEG)’s survey services included staking the alignment, setting permanent benchmarks, and establishing horizontal control to facilitate the use of a drone to scan the bridge deck surface. In addition, AEG, using conventional survey methods, located the utilities and the high water marks as visible and obtained topographic features. AEG provided environmental clearance and permitting for the bridge, including consultation for a federal endangered species, Section 4(f) evaluation, public involvement, and Chapter 105/Section 404 approval.

As a result of the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) database search and subsequent coordination with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), it was determined that peregrine falcons have used the Columbia/Wrightsville Bridge for nesting for more than ten years. AEG prepared falcon nesting exclusion devices to assure the falcons, their nests, and their eggs remained undisturbed during engineering field work and throughout the construction portion of the project.

To accommodate the falcons, bridge inspection activities within a 300-foot buffer surrounding the nests were restricted to avoid disturbance of the falcons. For construction activities involving loud noises and/or large equipment, a buffer up to 1000-feet will be required.

This project also involves two trails in Lancaster County. The Lower Susquehanna River Trail is a 53-mile National Recreation Trail extending from Sunbury, Pennsylvania through the project area, and to the Maryland border. The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is a 14-mile walking and bicycle trail extending from north of Bainbridge, Lancaster County to Columbia Borough. Design field activities impacted portions of the parking areas of the trails. The public was made aware of this and was afforded the opportunity to express their concern. Consideration was also given to the Mason Dixon Trail crossing under the bridge on the York County side as well as the Statewide Bike Route S that crosses the structure.

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