Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bryn Athyn residents cheer reopening of historic bridge

The historic Fetters Mill bridge reopened Thursday, after engineers added some temporary safety supports.

Bryn Athyn residents cheer reopening of historic bridge

The historic Fetters Mill bridge reopened to traffic this morning, with little fanfare but much to the delight of Bryn Athyn residents.

"Isn't this exciting!" a man shouted out his truck window before driving over. 

The bridge had been closed since November, when PennDot inspectors deemed it unsafe. Without the bridge, getting from Bryn Athyn to Willow Grove required a detour around Terwood Road, Welsh Road and Huntingdon Pike.

The total detour time? 

"It added five or 10 minutes.  But around 3 p.m., forget about it!" said Maria Bouvier, who works at the Post Office adjacent to the bridge.

Admittedly, the closure wasn't devastating.  But Montgomery County engineers found an easy fix to shore it up until a full restoration begins in 2014. 

Looking at the bridge, it's hard to see what's different. But look down, through the geometric-grate floor, and you can see wooden supports in addition to the babbling waters of Pennypack Creek.  Now, county engineers say, it's strong enough to carry one car at a time -- but still no trucks, emergency vehicles or anything over 6,000 pounds.

The bridge dates to 1883, but was rebuilt in 1977. It's part of an adorable historic distric that includes the old train station-turned-Post-Office, a spired Gothic-style cathedral and two Gilded Age estates built by the Pitcairn family. 

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Jessica Parks and Carolyn Davis
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