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County-Owned Covered Bridges Set for $2.5 Million Overhaul

September 27, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry King, 215.348.6413 or lrking@buckscounty.org

Bucks County’s covered bridges, among the county’s most familiar historical icons, will be getting plenty of TLC over the next several months.

The county commissioners this month approved more than $2.5 million in repair and maintenance work for the bridges. The expenditures will be paid entirely from the proceeds of a $5 fee that Bucks County imposes on new and renewed vehicle registrations.

All seven county-owned covered bridges will be part of the repair project, which begins in October and is expected to continue for about 15 months. They are:  Bridge02

  • Frankenfield Covered Bridge on Cafferty Road, Tinicum Township
  • Mood’s Covered Bridge on Blooming Glen Road, East Rockhill Township
  • Van Sant Covered Bridge on Covered Bridge Road, Solebury Township
  • Pine Valley Covered Bridge on Keeley Avenue, New Britain Borough
  • Knechts Covered Bridge on Knecht Bridge Road, Springfield Township
  • Cabin Run Covered Bridge on Covered Bridge Road, Plumstead Township
  • Uhlerstown Covered Bridge on Uhlerstown Road, Tinicum Township

“It’s a project that will basically take all seven of these bridges and bring them up to very good, pristine shape, and will keep them all in that shape for many years to come,” said Kevin S. Spencer, the county’s director of operations.

During their Sept. 4 business meeting at Washington Crossing Historic Park, the county commissioners voted unanimously to approve contracts totaling $2,537,951 with Loftus Construction Inc. of Cinnaminson, N.J.; and Professional Construction Contractors Inc. of Bethlehem, PA, to do the work.

Spencer said it will be the first major project in 10 years involving the covered bridges. Work at the bridges will take two to three months each, during which they will be closed and detours installed. Bridge03

Though largely constructed of wood, many of the bridges now have structural steel beneath them to hold them in place. That steel needs to be stripped of old paint and re-painted, Spencer said, along with fireproofing the interior and exterior wood surfaces, replacing some cedar facing and siding boards, and other maintenance.

Three of the bridges will have cedar-shingle roofs replaced, with the new roofs then treated with fire retardant, as fires have destroyed covered bridges in past years.

Others have been damaged by vehicles striking them, often by trucks too large for the posted height limits.Bridge01

Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Charles H. Martin asked whether placing surveillance cameras on the bridges had been considered. Spencer said that one bridge that has been struck repeatedly is equipped with cameras and that others are being evaluated.

Local police have been helpful in tracking down drivers whose vehicles damage the bridges. Many of those drivers, Spencer said, “just aren’t paying attention.”

The historic spans are among 114 bridges owned and maintained by the county. At one time more than 50 covered bridges were in use in Bucks County, but neglect, damage and replacement have claimed all but 12 of them, 10 of which can still carry vehicles.