The Hopewell Township Committee supports the position that Mine Road Bridge should be preserved by Mercer County as a pedestrian and bicycle-only structure.
The Township Committee unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 22, stating the official position of the committee prefers preservation instead of a full replacement with a 40-ton load rated bridge.
The official position is only a position as the county owns the bridge.
Mercer County officials were seeking an official position from the Township Committee after a previous public meeting on Jan. 27. The county has proposed two options for the bridge located near the intersection of Mine Road and Stony Brook Road.
“The Mine Road is a historic bridge that the Historical Preservation Commission came out loud and clear that this is something meaningful to the history of our town,” Mayor Julie Blake said. “It has been damaged over the years. The only thing we can do as a Township Committee is share our opinion with the county about how we would like them to proceed.”
A downed tree had damaged the upper structure, resulting in the bridge being closed to traffic. Since 2015, the bridge deterioration resulted in the county determining that the bridge was unsafe for use.
The county proposed the option of replacing the current 4-ton bridge with a modern, 40-ton load rating bridge that would allow for vehicle traffic to resume on the structure. The bridge be would 37 feet wide with a sidewalk being provided on one side of the bridge.
If the replacement option moves forward, the county will seek state funding for the construction costs for the project under the annual allotment for bridge funding.
The second option would retain the existing structure and permanently close the bridge to vehicle traffic, which also included emergency vehicles. However, the bridge would remain open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. To physically restrict vehicles from the bridge the county would erect signs and place bollards (short posts). Vehicular access to Mine Road would be provided by Route 31.
“What I did also include in the resolution was the sentiment to preserve the bridge was not only held by the Historic Preservation Commission, but a majority of residents that attended and spoke at the meeting (on Jan. 27),” Township Engineer Mark Kataryniak said.
The iron truss bridge was built in 1885 in the late 19th century by the King Bridge Company, according to Hopewell Township. In a 2018 Historic Bridge Alternative Analysis Report, the report indicated that the existing bridge structure had been deemed structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
“From my understanding from what the county said, if they were to repair the bridge to four tons, because it is a true truss bridge, the part of the bridge that is damaged is actually supporting the bridge,” Deputy Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said. “In order to do the repairs that would make it safe for even four-ton traffic the bridge would look so different and it would not even be the same bridge. When we have these only two options, removing the bridge and make it a 40-ton bridge or a pedestrian bridge, I whole heartedly support preserving the bridge.”