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PennDOT to Tinicum: Take over Headquarters Road bridge by June 30


This month’s meeting of the Tinicum Township Board of Supervisors included not only discussion of Headquarters Road Bridge but also an angry confrontation between two residents.

Tinicum board Vice Chairman Jim Helms says PennDOT has given Tinicum until June 30 to take ownership of the Headquarters Road Bridge, or risk losing the right to make any further offers for bridge ownership.

Stated Helms, “Obviously, we cannot accept ownership without first receiving a firm decision on our grant money for a temporary bridge.” Until then, the board intends to move forward with ongoing investigations into the temporary bridge and the potential for a rebuild.

Resident Kathryn Auerbach encouraged the board not to put all its eggs in one grant basket. “Taking the bridge, getting something done, reaching an end to this issue and getting our residents over the creek is a far better goal than simply waiting for one grant.”

Helms reiterated his previous position. “As of now, this pending grant is the only way this temporary bridge gets built. We need money and this grant is our current monetary opportunity. Without grant money in hand, we cannot take ownership.”

Member Eleanor Breslin added that the board has been seeking alternate funding opportunities. “Once our feasibility studies come back that show us a rehabilitated bridge can be structurally accomplished, and we have something in hand, we will be much better positioned to explore more grants and funding possibilities.”

Resident Tim Cashman asked how much direct communication has been taking place between the Tinicum board and PennDOT. “Do you guys reach out to them at all other than responding to their recent letter?”

Helms responded, “We ask Township Solicitor Steve Harris to stay on top of any updates on the lawsuits. But as we’re not party to any of them, we’re only privy to what information PennDOT chooses to share with us.”

Resident Steve Gidumal, whose land the Headquarters Road bridge crosses, stated his “full support for the path the board is taking.” He felt PennDOT’s threatened June 30 deadline may not be a hard one.

Gidumal then unfolded an intriguing proposal to the board. There exists a statute stating that if a bridge is abandoned for 10 years, it reverts to the landowner — which would be Gidumal.

He said he would support Tinicum’s bridge ownership, but put forth an alternative option.

“I will take the bridge and place it into a municipal corporation, a non-profit entity and raise the funds to do a bridge renovation.” He asked the board that if they agreed with his proposal, they should move to gain PennDot’s approval for a new way to move the bridge issue forward.

Helms seemed both surprised and intrigued by Gidumal’s stated option. “If you do have a proposal of that nature, of joint donors willing to talk to us in a real fashion, the board would obviously be interested in talking to you. That would be another potential avenue of ownership.”

As the board moved on to other business, a verbal scuffle suddenly exploded from the rear of the meeting room. The Herald reported back in September 2022 of previous near-physical confrontation during Headquarters Road Bridge discussions, also between Gidumal and Cashman.

Several attendees present at the meeting stated it seemed, as Gidumal was leaving the meeting, he had placed his hand on Cashman’s shoulder.

“Don’t you touch me!” screamed Cashman. “Don’t you talk to me ever again!”

Police Chief Madden, seated near the two men, quickly moved between them to ensure they did not move to “take it outside.”

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