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Copes Bridge (SR 0162 Section 58S)

Location: Chester County, Pennsylvania Client: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

JMT provided innovative structural, environmental and roadway design services for the rehabilitation of a historic stone masonry arch bridge.

This project involved the rehabilitation of Cope's Bridge, a structurally deficient, three span stone masonry arch.  The 171-foot long structure, constructed in 1807, carried SR 0162 (W. Strasburg Road) over the East Branch of Brandywine Creek. Cope's Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and served as a contributing element to the local historic district.

The goals of the project were to increase the load-carrying capacity of the arch (and thereby remove the posted 15-ton weight restrictions), to provide added safety for motorists, and to make all necessary aesthetic and structural repairs to restore the stone arch to the builder's original intention.  JMT met the first two of these goals by designing an internal strengthening method consisting of a reinforced concrete saddle arch, full-width slab, and barrier core that was concealed by the arch's exterior stone masonry and roadway surfaces in order to maintain its historical integrity.

With regard to the historical and aesthetic significance of the bridge, JMT worked collaboratively with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, East Bradford Township, East Bradford Township Historical Commission, and the public to arrive at a context sensitive solution. The design included reuse of original bridge stones and restoration of the original, engraved marble bridge identification plaque.  With the reconstruction complete, the bridge looked like its 'old self' while meeting today's safety and structural needs.

Cultural resources and Section 106 were the driving forces behind the rehabilitation of this nineteenth-century bridge. By understanding the requirements of Section 106, as well as the interests of the local public, JMT was able to rehabilitate the structure in a way that respected its historic significance while still meeting the engineering needs.

JMT received awards from the Association for Bridge Construction & Design (ABCD) and the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for our outstanding work to preserve the past while modernizing the structural capacity of Cope's Bridge.

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