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Upper Makefield preservation push may not end at Washington Crossing Bridge


Upper Makefield officials have already hired a consultant to spearhead research efforts aimed at getting the Washington Crossing Toll-Supported Bridge placed on the National Register of Historic places.

Now, the township supervisors are looking to expand the scope of Jeff Marshall’s work.

They want the former president of the Heritage Conservancy to research placing various buildings in the vicinity of the Washington Crossing Bridge (which runs over the Delaware River, terminating in Pennsylvania in Upper Makefield) on the National Register as well.

“I’m fully in favor of expanding the scope of work,” said Supervisor Tom Cino at a recent public meeting. “We are very proud to be the host township to these historic events and historic locations. Everything that we can do in our power to protect them we should do. I find it a duty as an American to push forward on this.”

The board enlisted Marshall’s help initially after the township learned that the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission is floating replacement of the Washington Crossing Bridge, a narrow, 119-year-old structure with a 15-foot-wide roadway. While far from a done deal, one possible outcome is a bigger, broader, more modern span — something Upper Makefield officials and many residents oppose.

Getting the bridge — and potentially nearby buildings – on the National Register can help protect the historic character of the bridge and Washington Crossing Village more broadly. Much more rigorous standards must be met to alter structures on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re very lucky to have copious historic resources in our township,” said Supervisor Braun Taylor. “Going through this process with the bridge has made us realize that some of our historic resources do not have the protection they probably ought to have. We’re glad to go through that process to make sure we can protect those resources.”

Still, supervisors haven’t yet approved a contract expanding the scope of Marshall’s work. They need to first settle on a fee for the services and formally approve just what his work will cover. Supervisor Ben Weldon said he’d like to know how long things would take.

Supervisor Chair Yvette Taylor noted that the board remains steadfast against bridge replacement. Supervisors and residents, she noted, attended a DRJTBC meeting in late April, with locals speaking against a construction overhaul for the span.

Washington Crossing Historic Park is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The park and the small, quaint village of the same name denote where General 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.

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