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Guest Opinion

Saving an important resource in Tinicum


It was with great relief and high hopes that I read the headline in the Feb. 22 issue of the Herald regarding the Headquarters Road Bridge. This bridge is a contributing resource in the Ridge Valley Historic District and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As such, the prescribed treatment — i.e. repairs, etc. of such a resource (according to the Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties) is to preserve and rehabilitate it — not demolish and redesign it as a two-lane bridge, which is PennDOT’s recommendation.

For more than 13 years the bridge has stood abandoned and abused, almost a victim of demolition by neglect — the result of improper maintenance and hostile repair work by PennDOT. During this period, there have been contentious confrontations and disagreements between PennDOT, its supporters, and factions in Tinicum Township that champion preserving the bridge and taking over ownership if financially feasible.

Now, thanks to the remarkable generosity of the nonprofit Woodtiger Fund, Tinicum may soon own the bridge, with all rehabilitation costs and maintenance covered by the fund.

In my opinion this is a win-win situation for the township, the residents, taxpayers and the historic preservation community. This is an ideal opportunity to preserve a precious and significant historic bridge that overlooks a quiet, bucolic Bucks County setting. It is an irreplaceable treasure.

Special thanks to Historian Kathy Auerbach, who first brought to light the plight of the bridge, and whose tireless and often thankless efforts have saved many of our historic resources, educated the public, and advanced the cause of historic preservation immeasurably.

My relationship with Headquarters Road Bridge and its environs began in 2009 while a student studying Historic Preservation and Architectural History. These studies included HABS/HAER measured drawings and a building conservation report regarding the condition of the bridge.

Headquarters Road Bridge was also the subject of my college internship project.

Kevin Joy is a historic preservation consultant.

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