Save 200 year old Headquarters Rd Bridge & protect Tinicum Creek!
The PA Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) is proposing to demolish the Headquarters Road Bridge over Tinicum Creek that was built in the year 1812 and has witnessed 200 years of this nation’s history. PennDOT is proposing an over-sized and out-of-place monstrosity that will erase this unique bridge from our landscape and our history, and will unleash significant, enduring and irreparable damages to Tinicum Creek. We need you to tell PADEP that this environmental degradation cannot be allowed to happen in one of our few Exceptional Value streams here in southeastern PA.
*** Comments are due on or before July 16, 2020 (see below for how to submit). ***
In Pennsylvania, our Exceptional Value (EV) streams are required to receive the highest levels of protection. Instead of protecting Tinicum Creek, PennDOT has designed a bridge nearly twice as large as needed and has proposed to move the Tinicum Cr stream channel significantly (on the order of 15 feet) to the west. Moving the stream will unleash violent water flows on the narrow band of trees in the riparian corridor downstream of the bridge, will cause extensive erosion of the streambank, will undercut the trees and damage the riparian zone, and will degrade the water quality and ecological integrity of Tinicum Cr. Instead of protecting this EV stream, as required by law, PennDOT is proposing to destabilize Tinicum Cr and cause permanent damage to this ecosystem. It is PADEP’s job not to allow that to happen.
We encourage you to review the information available on the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s website here about the history and environmental sensitivity of Tinicum Creek, and how the historic Headquarters Road Bridge helps to protect the stream.
How to submit comments to PADEP: There are four methods you can use to submit your comments to PADEP. Be sure to reference the PennDOT proposed permit number (E0901120-026) with your submission along with your name, address, and phone number:
1) Via using our online form submission portal at the bottom of the page. (After filling out the form, a sample letter and talking points will appear which you can then edit before final submission).
2) Via Email –directly to the PADEP Southeast Region at email@example.com
3) Via regular mail –file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address:
PADEP – Southeast Regional Office
Waterways & Wetlands Program Manager
2 East Main Street
Norristown, PA 19401
4) Via phone – call PADEP to request an filing deadline extension, and request all application materials (incl. all drawings) be shared immediately and electronically, by calling 484-250-5160
Below are talking points which you can include in your comment (feel free to copy/paste any language that resonates with you):
Moving the southwest bridge abutment destabilizes Tinicum Creek and leads to permanent damage to this EV stream. The proposal to move the bridge abutment and re-align the stream channel puts the entire downstream riparian corridor directly in the path of highly erosive floodwaters. There is a healthy and mature hardwood riparian corridor along the downstream channel, but this riparian corridor is narrow and will be damaged with the wrong bridge design. The PennDOT proposal to move the bridge 15 feet further south and west is exactly the type of threat that could permanently destroy the downstream riparian corridor, and will cause erosion of the stream for untold distances downstream causing water quality, flow, flooding and serious ecological harm. This bridge abutment must not be moved. The historic bridge must be rehabilitated in its current location.
PADEP needs to extend the comment deadline until at least July 17 and offer a public hearing post-pandemic. Despite a public notice that the PennDOT proposal was available for review as of June 5, the date upon which a 30 day comment period started to tick, PADEP did not actually make application the materials available until June 17. Because the application has not been made available in a timely fashion, the comment period must be extended to allow at least 30 days (preferably 60 days) for review and comment from the time the application materials were actually shared with the public. PADEP needs to also provide a public hearing that can be attended by all who are interested.
The PennDOT proposal fails to protect and restore a unique historical resource. The Headquarters Road Bridge is the oldest known example of this bridge type in Pennsylvania. The stone piers are over 200 years old, demonstrating the incredible durability of this historic construction technique. Not only does demolishing the bridge cause significant environmental damage but it permanently removes a key contributing element to the National Historic District on a federally-designated Wild & Scenic River. Professional engineers have demonstrated the bridge can be rehabilitated, restored and safely support all of the traffic needs of the region, including emergency vehicles.
The PennDOT bridge design is too large and causes environmental damage. The current one-lane bridge has effectively served this rural community for hundreds of years, and sits within a National Historic District protecting the community’s rural character – a character that has attracted residents, local businesses and ecotourists. The proposed design for a much larger two-lane structure increases impervious surfaces, damages Tinicum Creek and surrounding properties with increased stormwater and scouring flows on the riparian corridor, increases traffic hazards and traffic speeds, and undermines the rural and historic character the community has worked hard to preserve.
Protecting the riparian corridor must be a critical design feature with this bridge rehabilitation work. For this highest level of Anti-Degradation stream in Pennsylvania, the forested riparian corridor maintains water quality, shades Tinicum Creek and keeps waters cool in summer, and contributes to the healthy functioning of the stream ecosystem. The integrity of this riparian corridor must be a central constraint to any and all bridge work. The oversized proposal by PennDOT includes both tree removal and moving the bridge abutment to endanger the downstream riparian corridor. These environmental damages and risks are unacceptable on the Exceptional Value Tinicum Creek and must not be permitted by our Department of Environmental Protection.
Rehabilitation is the fastest way to an open bridge. The PennDOT proposal will not only cause environmental damage, but it also is not the fastest or most effective approach to re-opening the Headquarters Road Bridge. As PennDOT demonstrated in 2018 on River Road (Rt 32) adjacent to the Golden Pheasant Inn, a rehabilitation of stone abutments and piers with a new bridge deck can be implemented as quickly as a few short months.