Replacement of the Old Betzwood Bridge (Sullivan’s Bridge)
Sullivan’s Bridge Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail Project
West Norriton Township – Upper Merion Township
NEW TRAIL BRIDGE: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is starting construction to build a new four-span pedestrian/bicycle trail bridge over the Schuylkill River in Valley Forge National Historical Park (VFNHP). The trail bridge will enhance bicycle and pedestrian travel and provide a safe, regional connection between the Schuylkill River Trail and the trail system within VFNHP. The new bridge will be a pre-stressed concrete structure that is 14 feet wide and 604 feet long. Construction is scheduled to finish in May 2016.
TRAIL BRIDGE NAME: The National Park Service and the Friends of Valley Forge National Park sponsored a contest in 2013 to name the new pedestrian/bicycle trail bridge. Last September, it was announced that the trail bridge will be called “Sullivan’s Bridge” after Major General John Sullivan, the officer who was charged by General George Washington with building a bridge across the Schuylkill River during the 1777-78 Valley Forge winter encampment of the Continental Army.
ADDITIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS: In addition to building the new trail bridge, PennDOT’s contractor will replace the nearby Trooper Road bridge over the Schuylkill River Trail with a 60-foot long reinforced concrete arch structure; rehabilitate the 73-foot long bridge over Norfolk Southern railroad tracks; replace the Trooper Road pavement with a 14-foot wide asphalt trail between Station Lane (on the south side of the river) and the Riverview entrance (on the north side of the river); and rehabilitate Trooper Road to accommodate two 14-foot wide travel lanes between the Riverview entrance and Susan Lane.
BENEFITS: The new trail bridge will improve recreational opportunities, expand bicycle commuter options, improve access for VFNHP visitors and promote green travel patterns. It will provide a vastly improved route for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Schuylkill River when traveling between VFNHP and the Schuylkill River Trail, and allow for a connection with a future Upper Merion Township Trail on the south side of the Schuylkill River. Citizens today cross the Schuylkill River by walking on a narrow boardwalk path on the west side of the Route 422 bridge. This path, which is 4 feet, 6 inches wide, has been in place on Route 422 since the Old Betzwood Bridge was removed in 1995.
EMERGENCY ACCESS: The new trail bridge will be accessible to emergency vehicles weighing up to 20 tons.
OWNERSHIP: When construction is completed in 2016, PennDOT will transfer ownership of the right-of-way and bridges to Upper Merion Township and West Norriton Township. Under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the National Park Service will own and maintain the new trail bridge over the Schuylkill River and the bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad. West Norriton Township will own Trooper Road where it’s open to vehicular traffic north of the Schuylkill River and the bridge over the Schuylkill River Trail.
CONTRACTOR: J.D. Eckman, Inc. of Atglen, Chester County
PROJECT DESIGNERS: Boles Smyth Associates, Inc., Philadelphia; Cassio Engineering, Inc., Downingtown, PA; McTish, Kunkel & Associates, Allentown, PA; PAQ Inc., Norristown, PA; URS Corporation, Fort Washington, PA