Hope for a Pennsylvania Bridge
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Jan. 26, 2010
A group of Pennsylvanians who have been fighting for four years to save a c. 1910 bridge won a victory this month, when the National Park Service placed the Chandler Mill Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 16-foot-wide span, located in Kennett Township, is slated to be replaced with a new, two-lane bridge. But the National Register listing means that Chester County's plans to demolish the Chandler Mill Bridge must go through a review process, in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
"It's really a triumph," says Gwen Lacy, executive director of the Kennett Township Land Trust. "It validates what we're trying to do."
Chester County officials, citing safety concerns, proposed a new bridge in 2006. In response, locals formed the Chandler Mill Bridge Preservation Consortium, and circulated a petition in support of rehabilitating the old bridge. The consortium commissioned an engineering report that found the bridge could be updated.
"The solution would be to add a third beam down the center and replace the deck on top; that would get it up to legal loads," says Ron Denadai, a local engineer who acts as an adviser to the consortium.
The Chandler Mill Bridge is vital to the community, Lacy says. "It's a one-lane bridge, so people stop and wave to each other," she says. "It keeps that sense of a rural community."
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