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Guest Opinion

Headquarters Road bridge must remain one lane


I am the daughter of Steven Gidumal, and our family owns the land on which the abandoned Tinicum bridge sits. The protection and preservation of the (Headquarters Road) bridge is an issue I have been following diligently ever since my father bought the property, and I have decided to add my perspective.

The Herald and some residents make an issue of the 13 years the abandoned Headquarters Road bridge has been closed, but never answer the question of why PennDOT has met such resistance for so long by so many residents long before my father’s involvement. In school, we’re taught that if a person is sticking to a position you may find irrational, maybe their position really isn’t irrational.

The answer is simple: PennDOT wants to connect River Road to Route 611 (and then Interstate 76) and many residents of Tinicum are opposed to such a plan. Headquarters Road from River Road up to the closed bridge is beautiful and also very easy to drive up until the steep and sudden descent to the bridge.

Once crossing the bridge, connecting to Route 611 requires a steep, windy climb up the Headquarters Road section, which bisects our property. After listening to discussions between my father and our direct neighbors, it is clear that we all share the same opinion — that PennDOT’s ultimate goal is to convert the bridge into a two-lane span that will connect New York and New Jersey River Road traffic to Route 611 and accommodate tractor-trailer truck traffic via Headquarters Road.

This conversion will lead to an unimaginable number of accidents, particularly among inexperienced drivers. Gone will be the bicyclists and dog walkers who frequently travel alongside this peaceful road.

So instead of the Herald asking why residents of Tinicum are opposed to a two-lane bridge, the better question is why would any resident of Tinicum, or the greater Bucks County area, support such a destructive and reckless idea?

The residents along Quail Lane and McCann Drive are supporting PennDOT’s idea, which would rip apart Tinicum’s scenic beauty and erase hundreds of years of history from one of Pennsylvania’s oldest remaining bridges.

It seems that the renovation of this bridge has been stalled because a select group of residents want the PennDOT bridge, while my father and our direct neighbors wish to have the historic 1812 bridge rehabilitated and functional. We learned in history class that Abraham Lincoln wrote, approximately 120 years after my family’s property was established, that “a house divided cannot stand.” Well, neither can a scenic township. The day that the residents in favor of the pro-PennDOT two-lane bridge join in unison with those of us who want to protect the environment and history and repair the one-lane bridge is the day that this fight and delay will end.

In all of the multiple law briefs and documents I’ve had the chance to read regarding this issue, two in particular stand out to me.

The first is a campaign message by the late Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who quotes John F. Kennedy saying, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet...We all cherish our children’s future.” Of all the places Mr. Fitzpatrick could have picked in his district, he had this photo taken on our bridge facing our upstream pasture, a tribute to the value of this beautiful location.

The second document is a deed recorded in Bucks County on Nov. 30, 2022, of the easement land that PennDOT condemned despite my father’s opposition. The deed shows PennDOT as the Grantor of the Deed and my dad’s company, Virtus Capital, as the Grantee. So, to this day, when PennDOT condemned the easement land, they granted it right back to my family. We own the easement land today and have since we bought the land in the summer of 2020.

As even a young student can see, if you never owned the easement land for even one day, it is hard to see how any court, or any construction company, will allow PennDOT’s current, expiring permit to proceed with their lack of ownership.

I understand Ms. Baldassano’s frustration after living in Tinicum for 40 years having the bridge abandoned for 13 of those years.

If she is tired of having the bridge shut down, she should convince her neighbors to support the one-lane bridge and unite this scenic township. While I respect her commitment of 40 years to Tinicum, it is my hope that I will get to live on and enjoy this land for the next 70 years to come, and hopefully pass this property on to my children.

If we agree that we should all “cherish our children’s future,” let’s leave them this beautiful land as untouched as possible that at least one Fitzpatrick congressman thought important enough to highlight and protect.

My father has been working hard to find a solution that does not destroy our west streambank full of valuable old trees and does not wash away our downstream neighbor’s home to the inevitable floods to come, all while preserving the historic 1812 bridge. Let’s rehabilitate the historic one-lane bridge, move on from the “division,” unite and reopen the road safely.

Avery Gidumal lives in Tinicum.

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