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Clock is ticking for covered bridge grant

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The clock is ticking for a matching grant from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which could shore up costs to restore the South Perkasie covered bridge.

Built about 1832, the National Register of Historic Places site is the oldest covered bridge in Bucks County, and the third-oldest of its kind in the nation.

Perkasie Borough council member Scott Bomboy said in order to have a shot at the $100,000 grant funding, a matching dollar-for-dollar program, Perkasie would need to pony up $100,000, and complete the application by the March 2 deadline.

To date about $15,000 has been pledged to restore the bridge.

“It is an outstanding example of a covered bridge. You don’t see a bridge with most of its original parts,” and the plank or “town lattice design,” said Bomboy.

The unique lattice design uses many narrow crisscrossed strips of wood to form the structure, Bomboy explained.

Bomboy said the South Perkasie covered bridge, which has been out of service since 1958, has “high historical value,” and its restoration would make it an important element in Lenape Park for visitors, tourism and education.

“We want to convert it into an outdoor museum for those who want to learn about covered bridges,” Bomboy said.

Bomboy said the bridge could also be used for recreation, weddings and other events, as it would remain closed to vehicle traffic after restoration work is complete.

“That’s another unusual point about the bridge that since 1958 it has been closed to car traffic,” he said. Closing the bridge for more than 60 years as helped offset the daily wear and tear it would have otherwise experienced.

The total estimated cost to restore South Perkasie covered bridge and correct is “lean” to one side is about $240,000, Bomboy said.

The bridge “leans” at the corner closest to Walnut Street and Constitution Avenue because all 30-tons rest upon about a three-foot point, or footprint, of the abutments, he said.

“The problem is that everything is not nailed together. When it’s not perfectly balanced it will lean to its weakest point,” Bomboy said.

Graffiti from the 1950s currently “decorates” the enclosed portion of the bridge. “It has hundreds of initials carved inside,” Bomboy said.

Once construction begins bridge restoration would take about three months to complete, he explained.

Funding sponsorships from businesses and individuals are sought, and Bomboy said May 2020 art show proceeds by the Peace Valley Plein Air painters would also go toward the restoration. The painters would go out and paint pictures of all 12 bridges in Bucks County, Bomboy said.

“We plan to install historical panels to tell the story of the bridge,” he said.


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