Driver charged for damaging covered bridge in Chesco

The truck driver who hit a Chester County covered bridge in April is facing felony charges because, police said, after he struck the bridge, he kept going, taking out much of the canopy on his way through.

Antoine Branham, 37, of Erial, was charged Monday with criminal mischief and risking a catastrophe, both felonies because of the amount of damage, said Cpl. Ben Martin of the East Pikeland Township police.

"He's a truck driver," Martin said. "He's in a truck that is 13½ feet high. I don't know how you think you would fit through a bridge that's 10 feet high."

The bridge, on Rapps Dam Road, went through a $1.3 million rehab in 2011. Martin pegged the damage, conservatively, at $500,000.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Charles Metzger said Tuesday that it was unclear when the bridge would reopen or how much it would cost, but that a consultant was working in the design process now. He said repairs would require approvals from local and state historical societies, which would take time.

Metzger said that he anticipated that the driver's insurer would pay for the repairs, but that PennDot would likely pay the initial bill and seek reimbursement.

According to the police, Branham was a driver for the Centerton nursery in Bridgeton, N.J. Officials said he has been arraigned and released on $100,000 unsecured bail.