By Bernie Hornick Tribute-Democrat
SHANKSVILLE — A $2 million grant will allow for creation of an 800-foot pedestrian bridge over the Flight 93 park’s natural wetlands, lawmakers said Tuesday.
The bridge, pegged for completion in September 2014, will finish what officials say will be a quality 1.7-mile hike circling the Field of Honor. Patrons taking that stroll will encounter the Wall of Names along with the yet-to-be-built visitors center and the bridge.
The money is part of $3 million allocated to the Flight 93 National Memorial as part of the recently passed federal transportation bill.
The remaining $1 million will build the memorial’s return road, according to a release praising the work issued by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and U.S. Reps. Mark Critz and Bill Shuster.
According to plans filed with PennDOT, “The bridge will allow visitors to walk … from the visitor center to the crash site. Construction of the wetlands bridge eliminates the need for a causeway through the wetlands, thus preserving (them).”
PennDOT paperwork indicates a construction contract will be awarded by October for the steel truss or concrete girder bridge.
The lawmakers said the span will provide visitors with “a place of healing and reflection.”
The bridge will cross a series of ponds and wetlands adjacent to the crash site. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection have signed off on the job.
The memorial’s construction was designed around these waterways, created by stormwater flowing from surrounding hills.
“The construction of a wetlands pedestrian bridge will enhance the Flight 93 memorial and improve the overall experience for the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the site,” Critz said in the release.
“While the Flight 93 Memorial was officially dedicated last September, additional phases of construction and site improvements remain. This $3 million grant is another one of those puzzle pieces, allowing us to continue building the site into a fitting memorial.”
The highway money will cover a one-way return road to the main park entrance on Route 30. This will eliminate potentially conflicting traffic movements, especially during peak traffic and during construction of the visitors center, the lawmakers said in their release.