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On Washington Crossing Bridge, Wrightstown has Upper Makefield’s back


Resistance to a potential project that could see the Washington Crossing Toll-Supported Bridge transformed into a bigger, broader span is growing.

In an effort to protect the 119-year-old span, the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors is spearheading an effort to get the bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The board also recently passed a resolution that raises concerns that a major bridge overhaul — creating a much wider modern span — would wreak havoc on the historic character of Washington Crossing Village and the National Park of the same name, exacerbate flooding, send traffic problems soaring and have hazardous impacts on the environment, including threatening endangered species.

Now, Wrightstown is rallying to Upper Makefield’s cause.

At a public meeting on Monday, the Wrightstown Board of Supervisors authorized signing a companion resolution to Upper Makefield’s.

The Wrightstown resolution raises the same worries about traffic, the environment and the destruction of historical character. It also says that less costly and impactful alternatives to bridge replacement should be considered, including making the span a one-way bridge controlled by traffic signals.

Wrightstown Supervisor Chairman Chester Pogonowski noted that Wrightstown, Upper Makefield and Newtown Township collaborate through a local zoning jointure to control development and ensure quality of life for residents.

“The three neighboring municipalities have worked hard to preserve open space and historic resources,” Pogonowski said. “It is important to ensure that these are not compromised by another agency’s desire to increase the movement of traffic back and forth across the Delaware River.”

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission has floated replacing the narrow, 15-foot-wide roadway bridge with a newer, wider crossing. The bridge connects New Jersey and Pennsylvania, letting off and on in the Keystone State in the Washington Crossing Village section of Upper Makefield.

Washington Crossing Historic Park is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The small, quaint village and park denote where Gen. George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night en route to the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War — a victory for the fledgling United States.

The current steel, double-Warren-truss Washington Crossing Bridge opened to traffic in 1905.

In a statement, the commission has called the bridge “a bane to generations of motorists” due, in part, to its narrow width resulting in what was described as frequent minor fender-benders and broken sideview mirrors. An average of 7,200 vehicles crossed the bridge per day last year.

If a bridge upgrade were to occur, the goal would be to “improve mobility and provide a safe and reliable river crossing for vehicles and pedestrians,” the commission has said.

Still, it’s not a done deal on whether or not — and what type — of “improvements” would occur to the bridge.

Along with some residents, the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors attended a late March DRJTBC meeting and expressed concerns over a potential bridge replacement.

“We’re going to continue to make sure they know how important this issue is to our township,” said Upper Makefield Supervisor Chair Yvette Taylor at a township meeting in early April.

The next DRJTBC meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. April 29 at 1199 Woodside Road, Yardley, PA 19067. Meetings can be viewed digitally too

“I encourage anybody and everyone to attend,” Upper Makefield Supervisor Tom Cino said in a message to locals. “Public turnout will be helpful on this.”

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