$1.4 million awarded to the bridge by PennDOT to restore and repurpose the bridge for pedestrians.
HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (USA)- An early example of an iron through truss bridge built by a local bridge company in Pennsylvania is going to be restored after receiving a sizable amount of money from the state government. State Senator Mike Regan (Republican- Cumberland) announced on April 21st that the Friends of the Sheepford Road Bridge will receive $1.4 million from the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TASA) Funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The TASA Funds is money set aside for projects and activities considered transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation, trails that serve a transportation purpose, and safe routes to school projects. It also includes restoration of historic bridges considered vital for areas where recreation is popular.
The Sheepford Road Bridge was one of two bridges that received TASA Funding in the announcement. The bridge was built by Dean and Westbrook of New York City as well as the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in 1887. It’s one of a handful of bridges remaining in the eastern US that was built using cast and wrought iron and has two unique features: Phoenix columns on its end posts and ornamental portal bracings with builder’s plaque on each end. The Pratt through truss bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Rehabilitated in 1975, the 133-foot long bridge was closed to all traffic in 2000 and since then, efforts had been undertaken to secure funding to repurpose the bridge as a pedestrian crossing, especially as it’s located near a park spanning Yellow Breeches Creek at the Cumberland-York County border. With the awarding of the funding, the Friends of the Sheepford Road Bridge, who have their own website (here), the funding has been secured and construction will begin shortly on restoring the historic bridge and making it a pedestrian crossing. Apart from repainting the bridge, there will be other work on repairing truss parts and renewing the decking, all of which will be done with a firm specializing in restoring historic bridges.
“Two and a half years ago we started this incredible journey to Save Our Bridge, a story with many twists and turns,” stated Janice Lynx, director of the Friends of the Sheepford Bridge, in an interview with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. “We stumbled many times and on occasion thought all was lost. But in the end we brought our community, local representatives, and historical organizations together to save a piece of our history.” The Sheepford Road Bridge has already received grants and recognition on the international scale. This included winning the 2021 William Foshag Awards by the Cumberland County Historical Society. The bridge received a silver and bronze medal in the 2021 Bridgehunter Awards in the categories Endangered TRUSS and Bridge of the Year, respectively. The winner in both went to the Historic Bridges in Keeseville, New York. “Grassroots activism works and you can make a different,” stated Lynx. And indeed the Sheepford Road Bridge represents an example of how one local group can make a difference and keep a piece of history that others will enjoy, especially once the restoration is completed.
Your bridge matters, and therefore, congratulatons and best of luck with your next steps in restoring it. ❤ 🙂
The other historic bridge that is receiving funding through PennDOT’s TASA Program is the Bogert’s Covered Bridge in Allentown in Lehigh County. The Burr truss bridge was built in 1841 and spans Little Lehigh River. It can be seen north of I-78. The bridge has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. PennDOT awarded $1.3 million to the City of Allentown, which will be used for a complete restoration of the covered bridge, which includes diassembly, restoration of parts and reassembly. When this will take place remains open. But it will continue to serve pedestrians once the restoration project in completed.