Chandler Mill Bridge rehab fully underway
● By Steven Hoffman
Work on the rehabilitation of the historic Chandler Mill Bridge in Kennett Township, which began in December, is now past the demolition phase and is currently having repairs made to its girders, beams and stems.
On schedule to be completed in June, the construction schedule for the bridge calls for the installation of bearings, girders and floor beams in March; the pouring and application of the concrete surface in April and May; and the installation of railings, bollards and asphalt to be done in May and June.
The bridge, which was built in 1910 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed to traffic on May 6, 2011, due to extensive structural damage. Over the next several years, the structure became the topic of debate at many township meetings, as legislators and stakeholders battled over whether to wait for Chester County, then the bridge's owner, to make necessary repairs – which would have created a two-lane, two-way bridge, at no cost to the township – or to enter into negotiations with the county to purchase the bridge and devote township funds and grant money to fixing the bridge.
On June 4, 2014, the supervisors voted 2-to-1 in favor of the township pursuing ownership of the bridge, and in November 2014, the township entered into negotiations with Chester County to obtain the title and ownership of the bridge, which was authorized on Dec. 8, 2014, by the Chester County Board of Commissioners.
On Jan. 21, 2015, the township passed Resolution No. 2015-8, declaring that the bridge will be re-opened as a structure intended for pedestrians, pedal bicycles and emergency vehicles weighing up to and including 20 tons. The resolution further stated that the bridge will otherwise be restricted to motor vehicles. The resolution called for the construction of appropriate signage, break-away or removable bollards and other devices to prevent vehicular traffic from using the bridge, but still allow emergency vehicles to pass.
By taking ownership of the bridge, the township is able to restore it in a way that would maintain the structure’s status on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Last December, the township's board of supervisors passed a motion to authorize township manager Eden Ratliff to execute a contract with Gordian, Inc. in the amount of $516,869 to repair beams on the historic bridge. The engineering firm is a leading provider of facility and construction cost data, software and services.