Saturday, December 27, 2014

Meeting tonight to preserve county's oldest bridge

The Centre Avenue bridge linking Newtown Borough and Township dates to 1796. PennDOT is planning to replace the historic stone walls with concrete and reuse many of the stones, but local groups fear the bridge's character will be lost.

Meeting tonight to preserve county's oldest bridge

Bucks County’s oldest bridge, linking Newtown Borough and Township, is facing reconstruction, and local groups are worried the project will scar the 216-year-old stone span.

The Newtown Historic Association, the Newtown Creek Coalition, and First National Bank will discuss PennDOT’s plans to rebuild the two-lane Centre Avenue bridge at 7 p.m., Wednesday, at the bank’s offices at 9 W. Centre Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

The project, scheduled to go out for bid this spring, will include dismantling the stone walls, which date to 1796, and erecting concrete walls that will use some of the original stones. The work on the bridge -- the fourth oldest in the state – will not affect its place on the National Register of Historic Places, PennDOT officials have said.

Mike Sellers, a former borough councilman, said the original stones will be used as tokens on the façade of the walls, and the historical character of the bridge will be lost.

The 11-foot-wide bridge over the Newtown Creek between State and Sycamore streets carries more than 7,800 vehicles a day. It is in fair shape but is structurally deficient, PennDOT officials have said.

The bridge’s distinctive arches will be maintained, officials have said.

The work, which will cost an estimated $750,000 , will be done within the next two years. Once started, it must be completed within four months, officials have said.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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