After years in the making, the pedestrian bridge connecting the D&L trail over the Lehigh River is fully open.. Today was the official opening of the bridge in Jim Thorpe, and people wasted no time riding their bikes or taking a stroll.
We're finally able to use the bridge off route 209 after trail officials were waiting for a retaining wall to be finished. This bridge now connects 60 continuous miles of biking and hiking trails from Mountaintop to the Lehigh Valley.
"This is an incredible resource for this community. Residents and visitors alike."
It's been a long time coming for Elyssa Garafalo who's been overseeing this 5.4 million dollar project for quite a while. The payoff is worth it, but it didn't come without complications.
Garafalo said, "To get us to this point, two different railroads, the river, county, borough, Army Corp of Engineers, DEP. It's like building a highway."
D&L trail riders and hikers wasted no time waiting. It opened around 9am this morning, and the people were ready for it. Tony Tonelis and his son Miles came all the way from South Carolina. They didn't know this was happening, but were sure excited once they found out.
"We just rolled into town. We come here once a year, and just kind of showing my son around the area I grew up." Tonelis said.
The two will be getting some bikes tomorrow, and making a day on the trail. Tonelis and a lot of people we spoke with say they're excited just to hang out on the other side of the river for a change.
"We'll be on the bridge tomorrow and ride down as far as we can go, and I've never been to this side of the river. I've always been over there on the other side and wondered what it was like."
More than a foot bridge, Roxanne Fronheiser thinks this is huge for Jim Thorpe and the surrounding communities giving visitors yet another reason to spend time and money here.
Fronheiser said, "It's going to mean a lot. It's going to be a lot of revenue with the tourists coming in and renting bikes. Oh yeah, it's going to get a lot of recognition"
She rides on the D&L about once a week. This connecting bridge is giving her a new goal now that she doesn't have to choose what side she wants to ride on.
"I want to try it from White Haven now all the way down to Weissport. And now I can, So I'm excited." she said.
They're working on seven more miles of the D&L trail near Allentown as they aim to be the longest non-stop trail in Pennsylvania.