2 votes

Schlicher Covered Bridge 38-39-06


Portal View.

Photo taken by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation


BH Photo #177585




With care, including structural repairs last made in 1995, Schlicher's Bridge served the preserve faithfully. However, by 2007 the wood deck was sagging noticeably, prompting Tod to wonder if the curvature was intentional, part of a bridge design he was unaware of, or whether it was a sign of structural fatigue. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

The aging bridge remained open to motor vehicles at that time, though a 3-ton weight limit, PennDOT's last step before closure, had been in effect for years. The state shut the span down completely in September 2010, forcing motorists to drive almost completely around the 1,100-acre preserve property to access the zoo.

Since then, the plan to replace the bridge has been inching along like 5 p.m. Friday traffic on Route 22. Granted, PennDOT had to consult its own Cultural Resources experts and officials from the state Historical and Museum Commission to help determine exactly what kind of restoration could be done while maintaining the span's historical status, and the project put reviews by the state Department of Environmental Protection and state Fish and Boat Commission into gear as well. With all that, the new bridge wasn't expected to open till late last year, so with construction well underway, they're not far behind schedule.

When replacing a historic bridge with a replica, engineers also need to determine which parts of the original bridge can be retained and re-used in the new span, and which are too deteriorated, according to PennDOT spokesman Ron Young. In the case of Schlicher's, only about 10 percent of the old bridge is being incorporated into the replacement, said PennDOT engineer John Harmonosky.

Though Harmonosky agreed that sometimes pieces thought to be usable during the engineering study can be found to be otherwise after demolition, they were unaware of specific examples of that in the case of Schlicher's Bridge. However, I don't doubt the accuracy of what one of the workers told you; they're in a position to know the details, being on the site continually.

Either way, the old-bridge content should remain at about 10 percent, and that should be enough to retain the bridge's listing on the National Register of Historic Places, according to PennDOT engineer Mike Sterling, project manager for the bridge replacement. "I have every reason to believe it will remain on the list," Sterling said.

There's also reason to doubt it, according to Patrick Anrus of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington. "We don't have any given [minimum] percentage" that's required, Andrus said. However, "if they say they're removing 90 percent of the original bridge, they're not going to have the historic bridge anymore. They'll have a modern bridge."

Will Schlicher's then be removed from the Register?

"Properties are moved from the Register when we're notified by the state, or any citizen could do that" as well, Andrus said. Register officials would make the determination.

So it's possible that Schlicher's could lose its listing, if someone decides to blow the horn about the replacement.

PennDOT cultural research specialist Kristina Thompson said care is being taken to maintain the listing, including through the use of in-kind materials in the new bridge. "All of the covered bridges in Pennsylvania are on the National Register," she said. "I feel it's very important for [Schlicher's] to be rehabbed the way we're rehabbing it."

It's been a long trip to the new Schlicher's Bridge, but we've clearly veered into the passing lane now. Normally, when the private contractors get rolling, rapid progress follows — unless they strike unforeseen potholes, which does happen on occasion, most recently with the massive I-78 Hellertown interchange/Route 412 improvement project, which was extended by an additional excruciating year, to fall 2016.

But there should be a clear road ahead for the new Schlicher's Bridge, finally. PennDOT officials hope to open the new span in time for the Independence Day weekend. That will be welcome news to zoo officials and patrons, and to many others visiting any part of the nature preserve.


Work on a new Schlicher's Covered Bridge, a classic one-lane covered bridge in North Whitehall that has been closed for nearly three years, is expected to begin next year.

Sean Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the project to replace the bridge is in final design. PennDOT expects to open bids for the project next year, with construction of the new bridge to start shortly after that.

Schlicher's Bridge, which crosses the Jordan Creek at Game Preserve Road, was closed in late 2009 because the timber floor beams had deteriorated. Brown said the deterioration was due to normal "wear and tear" of a wooden structure.

Built in 1882, the bridge is 110 feet long and 17 feet wide. Height restriction is 8 feet, 2 inches. Prior to its closure, the average daily traffic on the bridge was 652 vehicles.

Brown said the bridge will be replaced so that it can bear more weight (maximum load had been 3 tons) but its historic appearance will be replicated.


Covered bridge over Jordan Creek on Game Preserve Road (PA 4007)
Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Future prospects
Rebuilt bridge, with approximately 10% original material, expected to reopen to traffic July 2014.

Schlicher's Bridge, which crosses the Jordan Creek at Game Preserve Road, was closed in late 2009 because the timber floor beams had deteriorated. Brown said the deterioration was due to normal "wear and tear" of a wooden structure.

Brown said the bridge will be replaced so that it can bear more weight (maximum load had been 3 tons) but its historic appearance will be replicated.

Built 1882; rehabilitated 1995, closed 2009, replaced with replica incorporating some old material 2014
Covered Burr arch-truss
Length of largest span: 100.1 ft.
Total length: 109.9 ft.
Deck width: 17.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 8.2 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 1, 1980
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.66161, -75.62683   (decimal degrees)
40°39'42" N, 75°37'37" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/447013/4501382 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)
Inventory numbers
PA 39 4007 0090 0000 (Pennsylvania Bridge Management System number)
NRHP 80003555 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
WGCB 38-39-06 (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
PANBI 23363 (Pennsylvania BRKEY bridge number on the 2011 NBI)
BH 31208 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of November 2011)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Critical (2 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 1, 2014: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Replica bridge reopened; notyet re-entered as new listing
  • May 30, 2014: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Updated with more detailed description and targeted reopening date
  • March 4, 2014: Photos imported by Dave King
  • June 23, 2013: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Added closure, planned demolition and replacement
  • March 18, 2012: New photos from Pat Madden
  • September 14, 2010: New photos from Nathan Holth



Schlicher Covered Bridge 38-39-06
Posted March 29, 2020, by George A Oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

While looking at the Mill Creek Road Bridge I noticed this bridge.I remember visiting the Trexler Game Preserve years ago and don't remember this bridge.I plan on visiting the game preserve this summer with my fiancée and plan on looking at this bridge while at the game preserve.Does anybody know if this bridge is rehabilitated and open for traffic?

Schlicher Covered Bridge
Posted September 14, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This bridge is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. It has an 18.8% sufficiency rating. The bridge is scour critical. The ADT is 652, well above the AASHTO Low Volume Roadway threshold of 400.

PennDOT has immediately recommended and begun planning for the rehabilitation of this historic covered bridge.

Now, consider the SR-3007 Iron Bridge Road Bridge: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/index.php?bri...

This bridge has less ADT, higher sufficiency rating, and is not scour critical. However, PennDOT plans to demolish and replace this historic metal truss bridge.

Talk about discrimination against historic metal truss bridges!

Please see the attached Detailed NBI Sheet for the covered bridge (Attachment #1), as well as the rehabilitation proposal by PennDOT (Attachment #2).

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 52,058 bytes)

Attachment #2 (application/pdf; 38,613 bytes)