Neighbors celebrate bridge’s rededication

posted Sun, Mar 13, 2011

Daily Local

By GABRIEL KATZ, Staff Writer

EAST BRADFORD —Chester County citizens and officials gathered Saturday afternoon to rededicate and celebrate the soon-to-reopen historic Copes Bridge over the Brandywine Creek.

The bridge will reopen by the end of the month. On Monday, a final inspection is scheduled. Line painting of the road and installation of guard rails are yet to be done. But participants in Saturday's ribbon-cutting witnessed three vintage vehicles — and two horses — cross the bridge while they stood against the bridge walls.

The rehabilitation of the bridge over the east branch of the Brandywine began in January 2010.

"It was in pretty poor shape," said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Eugene Blaum before the ceremony. "This wasn't easy, but we worked very closely with the township to make sure it was truly a restoration project and that everyone would be happy."

The bridge, which was determined by engineers to be structurally deficient in accordance with legal load limits, underwent more than $3 million in renovations to strengthen its load capacity and add safety for motorists.

The project was a collaboration among PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, East Bradford and the township's historical commission.

Craig Campbell of Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson is the engineering project manager for the bridge restoration, and he explained that a reinforced concrete core and saddle arch were two of the pieces that the team of workers had to fit together as part of the greater puzzle.

"It was difficult to come up with a design to add strength but maintain the historical integrity of the bridge," Campbell said. "We wanted to make sure it was designed just like the original builders intended, and that meant replacing everything carefully, even down to the stones, in order to do that."

Indeed, the width of the road and many other dimensions will remain the same, according to Mary Sue Boyle, chairwoman of the East Bradford Township Historical Commission.

"It was built back exactly to the inch of the original standards, and we are very excited about the finished product," said Boyle.

And how long do the rebuilders hope this new construction will last?

"Centuries," Boyle said.

Campbell reiterated that projects such as this are often done with 50- to 100-year lives in mind.

State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19th of West Whoteland, who visited the bridge in support of the ceremony and to help cut the inaugural ribbon, spoke about the bridge's historical importance.

"We should reaffirm our commitment that we are not going to allow Chester County to look like every other suburban place," he said to a round of applause. "We need to reaffirm our commitment and understanding… that we stand for open spaces and historic places. Today we have preserved our past, and today we have maintained that special sense of place — that soul, that essence of what Chester County is all about."

To contact staff writer Gabriel Katz, send an e-mail to gkatz@dailylocal.com.

Staff photo by Jim Callahan Participants in a rededication ceremony cross the Copes Bridge on Saturday in East Bradford.

Staff photo by Jim Callahan Dr. Mary-Anne Ost of Waltz Road in West Bradford walks horses Bailey's Dundee and Chip N Zip across the Copes Bridge on Saturday in East Bradford.

 

Staff photo by Jim Callahan Dr. Mary-Anne Ost of Waltz Road in West Bradford walks horses Bailey's Dundee and Chip N Zip across the Copes Bridge on Saturday in East Bradford.

 

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