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Guest Opinion

Let PennDOT build Headquarters Road bridge


The author of a Feb. 2 guest opinion (“Headquarters Road bridge must remain one lane”) claims to understand my frustration with the significant delay in construction of the Headquarters Road bridge. Respectfully, I don’t think the author can.

I have lived in Tinicum Township for almost 24 years. For nearly 13 of those years the main bridge providing me access to critical services has been closed. The bridge spans Tinicum Creek on Headquarters Road at Sheephole Road. Headquarters is a state road. PennDOT has been stopped from repairing or replacing the bridge by 12 years of lawsuits brought by landowners that border the bridge and two environmental groups.

All of the lawsuits against PennDOT have been concluded in favor of PennDOT. All that remains are appeals, and finally a bridge is in sight for me and my neighbors.

But not so fast; here’s where my frustration mounts. The very parties who brought the lawsuits and fought PennDOT’s plan for the bridge for 13 years now want to pay for the township to take over the bridge construction.

To add insult to injury, certain members of the Tinicum Township Board of Supervisors, are actually considering this plan.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, the board attempted to vote to approve taking over the bridge project. There was no notice to Tinicum residents that such an important issue would be decided that night. The president of the board, Eleanor Breslin, proposed that the board vote to take over construction without having plans, permits or funding. How irresponsible is that? At least one board member objected to acting without more information.

Representatives from PennDOT have not been given the opportunity to present to the citizens the timeline for completing the project (that construction could begin this summer). No timeline has been offered by the parties who now want to provide funding for a bridge.

What do the landowners who opposed the bridge want? A one-lane bridge.

One of the landowners bordering the bridge expressed at a township meeting that PennDOT wants a “superhighway” to connect New Jersey and Route 611, and that the two-lane bridge over Tinicum Creek is needed for that.

This claim is spurious. The 90 degree turns on the east side of the bridge do not call to mind a superhighway.

The author of the Feb. 2 piece stated that “if [ I am] tired of having the bridge shut down, [I] should convince [my] neighbors to support the one-lane bridge and unite this scenic township.” I don’t presume to speak for my neighbors but as far as I’m concerned, whether it is a one-lane bridge or a two-lane bridge makes no difference.

For years we drove over that one-lane bridge and watched it be destroyed by large vehicles hitting the bridge abutments and knocking them into the creek. Over time, and after so many collisions, PennDOT had to close the bridge.

Given the history of what has happened to our one-lane bridge, that Tinicum Township wants to take on ownership and responsibility for it boggles the mind, particularly since PennDOT is ready to go and willing to pay.

The Feb. 2 missive laments, without support, that the PennDOT design will cause future flooding and pleads for a rehabilitation of the bridge.

Experts testified in various hearings that PennDOT’s design will restore the natural flow of the creek, which was interrupted by the old one-lane bridge. Skilled engineers have testified that the bridge cannot be rehabilitated and must be rebuilt. The quickest way to do that is to allow PennDOT to do its work.

Speaking for myself, that’s what I want. Get us a new bridge as quickly as possible. Let PennDOT do what our tax dollars pay it to do.

Valli Baldassano lives in Tinicum Township.

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