DOYLESTOWN >> Bucks County’s beloved covered bridges – historic icons still able to bear the traffic of today – are now good to go for at least another decade, thanks to a $2.5 million county restoration project completed last week.
New Britain Borough’s Pine Valley Covered Bridge reopened to traffic Sept. 3 after a ceremonial ribbon-cutting attended by county and borough officials. Dating to 1842, Pine Valley was the last of the seven county-owned bridges to be refurbished in an initiative begun last October and completed well ahead of schedule.The entire cost of the project was paid from a $5 fee assessed by the county several years ago on new and renewed vehicle registrations in the county.
“I went from teaching history for 26 years in public school to now helping at least a little bit to preserve history,” said County Commissioner Bob Harvie, who attended the ribbon-cutting on Keeley Avenue. He thanked the previous Board of Commissioners, which approved the restoration project last September, and Kevin Spencer, the county’s director of operations, for overseeing the work.
“It’s a beautiful bridge; it’s a beautiful part of this county,” Harvie said. “We’re proud to do what we can to help keep it up.” Other county-owned covered bridges that have been restored over the past year are:
- 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
- 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
The work included fireproofing the bridges, stripping and repainting the structural steel that now helps support the wooden structures, replacing cedar facing and siding boards and, in some cases, cedar-shingled roofs.
Loftus Construction Inc. of Cinnaminson, N.J., and Professional Construction Contractors Inc. of Bethelehem, PA, combined to do the work on the bridges, Spencer said.
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.
Those that remain are cherished by the communities they grace.
The Pine Valley Covered Bridge is the centerpiece of New Britain Borough’s logo, Mayor David Holewinski noted. “We as a borough have been around for a number of years, but the bridge outdates us and we love it,” he said.
When it came time to open the bridge, a pair of oversized, ceremonial scissors was handed to Bruce Burkett, a member of the Bucks County Covered Bridge Society whose family has been in the borough so long that a building up the street is named for them.
Burkett snipped the ribbon spanning the south end of the bridge, and the venerable structure went back to work.