not a restoration, but it's an excellent example of
context-sensitive design," Joan Hazelton, chair of the
historic roads and bridges unit of Preservation Delaware, told
Delaforum. "They have gone to great lengths to listen
carefully and come back to the community with something that the
and about 25 residents of château country were all but totally
supportive of a Delaware Department of Transportation proposal
to, in effect, put the bridge back the way it was before
fire destroyed it on 'Mischief Night' in 1956.
The plan was presented at a community meeting on
Delaforum previously reported, the new bridge is
to be a single-lane span 15 feet wide and 12½
feet high. There would be no designated bicycle
or pedestrian lane and the bridge floor would be
wooden planks. About a third of the sides would
be an open window. DelDOT also is proposing to
redesign the curved approach on the
west side to provide a longer line of sight, but
has yielded to residents’ and dropped a
proposal to install a traffic signal to control
present open bridge is a
to several covered bridges which have stood at the site,
just south of the Delaware-
photograph and drawing courtesy of DelDOT
illustraation shows how the proposed covered Smith Bridge over the
Brandywine would look.
border, since the early 1800s. Ruins of a 19th Century mill are
come up with a conceptual design, DelDOT planners worked from sets
of drawings dated 1936 and 1939.
of Transportation Nathan Hayward told the meeting that his
department is anxious to move ahead with the project as quickly as
possible. Following a final public hearing in May, design work and
bidding can be completed in time for construction over a six-month
period beginning in late
or early summer, 2002, he said. By having the necessary
material on hand and prefabricating as much as possible,
actual closure of the crossing can be held to considerably
less than that, he added.
officials declined to estimate the cost of the new
structure. Bridge builder Tony Zaya, whose firm intends to
bid for the job, said that a similar bridge constructed a
few years ago in Canada cost just over $1 million.
addition to recreating a structure reasonably close to the
span's historic appearance, Hayward said DelDOT is
interested in coming up with a design that will enable
motorists to cross the Brandywine but at a controlled
pace. "Everybody in Delaware is talking about traffic
calming. We want to design it in a way that as much as
Hayward examines an album of Smith Bridge photos from
volume, especially that which travels at high speeds," he
proposed bridge will not accommodate large trucks. Suitable signs
will warn drivers of that before they approach the span and there
will be turnaround room provided for those who get close.
Weber, project manager, acknowledged that DelDOT was venturing
into unfamiliar territory by constructing a covered bridge.
"I would be safe to say we're unfamiliar with this type of
work. But you have a whole lot of people in the department paying
close attention to it," he said. It is believed that Delaware
will join Vermont as the only states to build such a covered
bridge as other than a tourist attraction in recent memory.
our standpoint, there would be definite advantage in building a
two-lane [uncovered] bridge. But the consensus at our [previous]
workshops and this advisory group is that the community wanted
this to limit traffic on Smith Bridge Road," he said.
said the bridge will probably be constructed of a bongassi, an especially
hard wood from trees which grow in central Africa, to ward off
graffiti, and have fire-resistant sides and roof.