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PennDOT awaits state and federal permits to start bridge construction

Headquarters Road span closed 10 years


While Tinicum Township public board of supervisors meetings continue to feature spirited discussions about competing views on the reopening of the Headquarters Road crossing of Tinicum Creek at Sheep Hole Road, PennDOT says it is ready to proceed with its two-lane bridge replacement proposal.

PennDOT closed the present one-lane bridge in 2011, and controversy has raged since then within the township between the reopening ideas of restoration of the 1812 one-lane substructure, and its 1919 deck, or PennDOT’s new, two-lane replacement proposal.

Asked in a May 26 email about the status of the project, Ryan M. Whittington, PennDOT’s project management consultant, replied, “PennDOT is ready to advertise this project to contractors, pending receipt of the state and federal waterway permits from the (state) Department of Environmental Protection and the (federal) Army Corps of Engineers. Once advertised, we anticipate selection of the contractor by low-bid within about four weeks.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a solid timeframe for when we expect those permits to arrive from either agency to report at this time, but I understand that both are in the final stages of review,” he concluded.

In an April 1 press release, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) announced it would “mount a legal challenge to the failure by the U.S. Department of the Interior through the National Park Service … to protect the historic Headquarters Road Bridge and the Tinicum Creek in Tinicum Township.”

Approval of PennDOT’s proposal by the National Park Service (NPS), understood to be in hand by the end of last March, is required for both the state and federal waterway permits. The NPS review was to feature assurance of compliance with federal law aimed at protecting creek water quality and its free-flow, as well as other “remarkable value” such as plant and animal species, and historic architecture and engineering. DRN said last year that the dismissal of a suit it brought against PennDOT’s two-lane proposal in federal court represented only a procedural endorsement for the project, and not a ruling on the substance of its challenge.

At the May 4 supervisors meeting, residents continued their presentation of environmental, historic, and traffic concerns, with other residents dismissing them as false, or irrelevant when compared to emergency response concerns and serious inconvenience caused by the delay in reopening the crossing. Supervisors continued to note their extensive efforts to resolve the matter over the years, and their denial of claims that they had more influence in the situation than they actually do in a matter featuring state and federal regulations.

Also at the May 4 meeting, Supervisor Chair John Blanchard thanked Wehrung’s Home Center, and its principal Jason Wehrung, “for their partnership and support of the community, not only with the Ottsville Mini Golf course, but also as a member of the Tinicum Police Foundation, and the hosting of our Police Department drug take-back programs.”

He also thanked township staffer Joan Tanner for her “hard work on the 2021 Bucks County Hazard Mitigation Plan. “
After the meeting, Township Manager and Treasurer Teri Lewis noted that “Bucks County Recycling Events for 2021 are available on our website, on the (meeting room) bulletin board and in the (building) window box, along with information about what will be accepted. This year, you will need to register for the events if you plan to go. The Bucks County Recycling Guide has been updated for 2021 and is also available on our website.

Meanwhile, our Public Works Department accepts used motor oil, and you can take any electronics to be recycled to 611 Metals.”

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