KENNETT TOWNSHIP, PA — On Friday, October 2nd, a small ceremony was held to officially announce and celebrate the reopening of the historic Chandler Mill Bridge in Kennett Township.
The bridge, originally constructed in 1910, has been closed to vehicular traffic for over 10 years. The successful mission was restoration and incorporation of the bridge into the Kennett Greenway, a 14-mile loop of connecting trails throughout Kennett Township and the Borough.
Kennett Township Manager Eden Ratliff noted the importance of maintaining the bridge on the National Registry of Historic Places along with other priorities. “Kennett Township Board of Supervisors and citizens were clear that the bridge needed to be preserved and restored, its historical status maintained, closed to thru traffic, yet accessible for emergency vehicle access. That means the bridge needed to be structurally sound enough for large ton vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances, but built in a way that is reflective of its 110-year-old design and character.”
Ratliff explained that the contractors, Lobar Construction, were hired through a transparent state program. He also noted total costs of the restoration exceeded $500,000 made possible by grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
“They say that good things take time. Well, it took longer than we hoped, but 10 years later, what we have here is good. It will remain an increasingly rare place where wildlife can thrive and people can come to slow down, or to walk, run or bicycle – and it is ours to cherish,” commented Kennett Township Board of Supervisor Chair, Dr. Richard L. Leff.
All three Chester County Commissioners, Marian Moskowitz, Michelle Kichline, and Josh Maxwell were on hand to witness and take part in the ribbon-cutting. The County was instrumental in this achievement after graciously selling the bridge to Kennett Township for $1.00.
Chester County Commissioners‘ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “Our ‘Quality of Place’ in Chester County is defined by the equal emphasis of progress and preservation,” and added, “the plan for the bridge to be part of the larger Kennett Greenway initiative is a terrific example of our important focus on preservation AND all of it was citizen-led!”
One of those citizens who contributed was Jane Dorchester, who worked with the Chandler Mill Bridge Consortium to get the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places and worked alongside Township Engineers AECOM to ensure the bridge remained on the list throughout reconstruction.
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County’s (TLC) Preservation Director, Abbie Kessler thanked Jane and several others who had a direct role in this effort. “This landscape remains intact due to those who understand that you cannot retain the history without the land,” she said.
Kennett Trails Alliance Executive Director, Christina Norland provided remarks in both English and Spanish. She said, “The [Kennett] Greenway’s commitment is that all people – no matter where they come from, what they look like, the neighborhood they live in or how they identify – have access to quality programs, facilities, places and spaces that make their lives and communities great.”
“When completed, the Kennett Greenway will connect five municipalities, 10 parks and preserves, 1,500 acres of open space and over 12,000 residents in Kennett Township and Kennett Borough,” added Norland.
This invitation-only event was the first of two planned by the Township and Kennett Trails Alliance. The second event is open to the public and will occur Saturday, October 3rd from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Called the “Get Re-Kennected Activity Trail,” this is COVID-19 compliant family fun walk/bike/run starts at Pennock Park (650 W South St, Kennett Square), continues along the Parrish and Whittle Trials and down Chandler Mill Road to the newly celebrated bridge.
Stations planned along the trail are designed to help “kennect” to The Kennett Greenway, the future vision of the Greenway, Hispanic heritage, creativity, nature, and history.
More details can be found at https://www.kennettgreenway.com/events/get-re-kennected-activity-trail.
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