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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Save the Chandler Mill Bridge, Create a Nature Preserve, and Leave a Legacy!

The beautiful Chandler Mill Bridge in summer!
The Chandler Mill Bridge’s future has been in limbo for over 9 years. Finally, a forward-thinking decision is right around the corner! The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County has led the charge on behalf of the Chandler Mill Bridge Consortium to convert the CMB to pedestrian-only. Now, with the decision in its twilight hours, we need your help! Sign this petition and read on below to learn about the CMB and why your opinion matters.

Located between Kaolin Road and Hillendale Road, the Chandler Mill Bridge is a historic, steel-plate through girder bridge. Built in 1910, the CMB is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits above the rural, scenic Red Clay Creek.

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in May of 2011, after a routine inspection declared it unsafe. Originally, TLC advocated for rehabilitation of the bridge. Over the past 9 years, the CMB issue has evolved and the TLC’s stance has evolved with it. The bridge used to be a farm-to-market relic. Times have changed, and now we have the opportunity to create a public nature preserve with extensive trail linkages. Even within the last week, exciting new opportunities have developed!

Site of proposed Chandler Mill Nature Preserve
If the CMB is converted to pedestrian-only, a private landowner has pledged land to create a Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Interpretive Center! The Preserve will contain 50 acres of public-access open land, connecting people to nature and recreation. Interior and perimeter trails will traverse the preserve, and the preserve will host a nature interpretation center. TLC and bridge neighbors submitted a formal proposal on May 19th to the Kennett Township. The proposal is a blueprint for all trail networks plans involving the CMB-- from the Red Clay Greenway to the Nature Preserve.

Sketch of the pedestrian-only CMB
Currently, Chester County owns the Chandler Mill Bridge. The County is interested in demolishing the bridge and replacing it with a two-lane bridge. In practical terms, a two-lane bridge means no Nature Preserve and no Red Clay Greenway. Fortunately for CMB supporters, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This means that Chester County must exhaust all alternatives to demolition, as required by federal law.  Therefore, if Kennett Township accepts ownership of the bridge-- the County will convert the CMB to pedestrian-only! As clarified at the CMB Kennett Township meeting on April 30th, there are federal, state, and local funds available to convert the bridge. 

We all moved to Kennett Township to enjoy the rural, scenic community. As Kennett Township develops, our back roads are becoming heavily trafficked, open land is converted to housing developments, and historic bridges are demolished. The Chandler Mill Bridge represents a piece of history and beauty. Kennett Township will likely hold a vote in June about the CMB’s future. In the meantime, sign this petition to convince the Kennett Supervisors to Save the Chandler Mill Bridge, Create a Nature Preserve, and Leave a Legacy!  Keep an eye out for more information about the ongoing efforts to preserve the Chandler Mill Bridge and safeguard our quickly-disappearing quality of life. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to save a historic bridge from demolition-- while creating an amazing community resource, enhancing our township, and protecting our quality of life for generations to come.  

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