For New Hope residents weary of the orange and white plastic barricades and tattered warning tape adorning one of the two sidewalks on the Stockton Avenue Bridge, the view may actually be getting worse in the months to come.
We tried to reach the Bucks County Commissioners, but they were “out for the day.” We were curious about the huge concrete barricades that had appeared overnight along the sidewalk, and whether they were going to be used in some way for repairing the bridge, or just represented another concrete poke in New Hope’s figurative eye by the county’s Road and Bridge Department.
We did manage to speak again with Gerry Anderson who heads up the county’s General Services division, having interviewed him for an article Wednesday about the issue. Anderson had attributed the delay in reconstruction work on the relatively short stretch of sidewalk curb to bureaucratic red tape and poor access to the base of the bridge. Anderson said the impaired sidewalk can only be fixed from below because damage runs through a supporting pylon.
Asked about the placement of large concrete barriers along the full length of bridge sidewalk Thursday, Anderson indicated the county is taking the Stockton Avenue Bridge situation seriously enough that it is concerned about pedestrians using the sidewalk at all. “If we could just quickly patch it, we would have,” Anderson pointed out.
And while the height of the concrete barriers alarmingly appears to make falling off the bridge easier for errant kids, the next step may be aesthetically disastrous — some type of cyclone fencing to seal off the sidewalk from pedestrian traffic completely. The tone in Anderson’s voice and a quick look at the foundation of the bridge show signs of distress.
So, while it appears the county could certainly have moved faster on the Stockton Avenue Bridge sidewalk repair, the problem seems more than cosmetic, involving more than just a sidewalk.
Meanwhile, lengths of filthy, white plastic tape from sidewalk barriers blow over the treetops along Ingham Creek like tattered prayer flags in the westerly wind.
Anderson said he spoke Friday by phone with the borough manager, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like what’s becoming an eyesore in the heart of New Hope may be a longer-term proposition than many may have thought.