The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority is pressing the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees Delaware Canal State Park, to address the shutdown of a bridge that provides access to the New Hope Waterworks Condominium and a water treatment facility.
The Upper Union Mills Bridge in New Hope Borough over the towpath and canal connect the condo complex to a small parking area and River Road. It has been closed since Wednesday, June 14.
The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority is asking a Bucks County Court of Common Pleas judge to order the state to perform temporary repairs to the bridge, according to a filing on behalf of the authority by lawyers Randy Flager and Scott Holbert.
The authority, which provides service to 2,600 customers in New Hope Borough, said the bridge serves as an essential route for utility and emergency vehicles to the New Hope Waterworks Condominium and the water treatment facility situated along the Delaware River within its property.
A June 8 inspection of the bridge by a contractor hired by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources raised concerns after damage to a beam was found.
PennDOT engineers were consulted and advised the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to close the bridge.
The authority said the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wrote a letter to the condo association that temporary repairs would be made to reopen access.
“However, no work on the bridge has been performed since it was closed, and the repairs report has not been provided. Therefore, BCWSA is seeking court intervention to resolve the issue,” the authority said in a statement.
The authority said the bridge is the “only access to make emergency repairs and pump replacements to the water treatment plant.”
A second bridge provides access to the condos, but it leads to the parking garage, which has a clearance of less than seven feet. The seven-foot height limit is too short for some utility and emergency vehicles, the authority said.
John Cordisco, chair of authority’s board of directors, stressed that the water treatment plant serves as a vital resource for the community and emergency access needs to be maintained.
“The condo community is prone to flooding, and emergency evacuations can be expected. Services will be delayed in responding to emergency situations, whether it’s flooding, a fire or any other serious incident in the community, risking life and property,” he said.
State Sen. Steve Santarsiero’s office has been working with the authority.
The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority and Waterworks Condominium Association are also seeking the state’s reports and calculations used to make the determination to close the bridge.
“It is crucial that we have all the information in front of us and know exactly what repairs are needed,” said Cordisco. “This has been an ongoing issue that needs to be resolved immediately.”
Wesley Robinson, a press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told NewHopeFreePress.com on Friday that the agency declined to comment.