RETTEW Receives Engineering Excellence Award for Bridge Replacement Project

Firm Obtains First-Ever Approval in PA to Relocate Covered Bridge, Preserving Historic Landmark

Lancaster, Pa. — The American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA) recently awarded RETTEW, a multidiscipline engineering, planning and environmental consulting firm, a 2008 Diamond Award for the replacement of Keller’s Covered Bridge in Lancaster County, Pa. ACEC/PA presented the award in the structural systems category to RETTEW and Ephrata Township at a ceremony held Thursday, February 7, 2008, in Hershey, Pa. 

“RETTEW was very happy to have worked with Ephrata Township on this unique bridge replacement project,” said Mark P. Lauriello, PE, president, RETTEW. “The new structure improves the quality of life for local travelers while still preserving a revered part of Lancaster County’s history.”

Keller’s Covered Bridge is a 115-year-old single-lane, single-span 57-foot-long Burr-arch wooden truss bridge that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of only 27 remaining historic covered bridges in Lancaster County. For many years, the bridge carried Rettew Mill Road over Cocalico Creek in Ephrata Township, but the structure’s five-ton load posting, restricted vertical and horizontal clearances, and poor sight distance caused by the roadway alignment called for replacing Keller’s Covered Bridge with a new structure to address present and future transportation needs.

Replacing the bridge required RETTEW to address challenges involving traffic control, hydraulics, structural design and the new bridge’s proximity to historic properties. The most challenging aspect of the project, however, was the historic significance of Keller’s Covered Bridge and public concern over its replacement. After consulting with the public and officials on the federal, state and local levels, RETTEW obtained approval to have Keller’s Covered Bridge relocated approximately two miles downstream to eventually reopen Middle Creek Road, which has been closed for 18 years. The agreement was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and enabled Ephrata Township to preserve the historic structure while also improving roadway safety and mobility for its residents. 

“It was important for us to replace the old covered bridge but also find a way to preserve it,” said Steven Sawyer, manager, Ephrata Township. “RETTEW was instrumental in helping us do that.”

The new structure, Rettew Mill Road Bridge, is a two-lane, two-span prestressed-concrete box-beam bridge situated on a new alignment; the new bridge provides a safe route for emergency vehicles and local traffic. In addition to providing engineering, environmental services, and construction phase services to replace the existing bridge, RETTEW also coordinated the careful disassembly of the original covered bridge, which is being restored off site for future reassembly on Middle Creek Road.

Established in 1969, RETTEW is a full-service firm providing engineering, land development, planning, surveying and environmental consulting services. With nearly 250 employees, RETTEW has offices located in Camp Hill, Chambersburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster, Nazareth, and Pottsville, Pa.; and Liberty and Margaretville, N.Y. For more information about RETTEW’s services, please call 1-800-RETTEW-5 or e-mail