3rd Street Bridge: The Current Options
In the past couple of months, information has come forward that has shifted the possibilities for the 3rd Street Bridge and Dam. It is very clear that something must be done, and soon; the dam was declared unsafe in 1980 by the Army Corps of Engineers, and has been closed to traffic since 1996. For the public and especially those living downstream, it must be dealt with as soon as possible.
Up until recently, it was believed that PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) required that the dam be rebuilt and the road be restored and opened to automotive traffic. Recent interactions with PennDOT have revealed that this is not the case, and in fact, Media Borough, the “project sponsor,” may declare whatever goals they see fit, as long as the safety issues with the bridge are resolved.
To the best of our knowledge, there are four possible options that the PennDOT (and local) funding would permit, noting that there are variations and creative options within these four broad categories:
- Replace the dam, reconstruct an automotive road. This is the current plan on the table, incorporating a two-lane road. It is possibly the most expensive and environmentally damaging plan, but maintains Broomall’s Lake and allows the greatest amount of transportation access between Media and Upper Providence.
- Replace the dam, create a greenway for pedestrians and bicycles, possibly that is open to emergency vehicles. This would maintain Broomall’s Lake and the parklike atmosphere between the lake and Glen Providence Park, while allowing passage between Media and Upper Providence.
- Remove the dam, build an automotive bridge. Dam removal and stream restoration tends to be a less expensive option, often 2-3 times less expensive. Environmentally, dam removal can be disruptive in the short term, but will overall cause much less damage to the park and will restore the stream to its natural course. It will improve water quality. All dam maintenance and ownership issues are resolved when there is no dam. There are many factors specific to Broomall’s Dam that can only be addressed by an expert. Building an automotive bridge, however, would be costly and have significant maintenance costs.
- Remove the dam, create a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, or greenbridge. This would potentially incorporate the cost savings and environmental benefits of removal, while maintaining a transportation connection between Media and Upper Providence.
As far as we understand, PennDOT would fund 80% of any of these four options. The rest of the money would come from local grants like that provided by Senator Pileggi.
Friends of Glen Providence Park wants to minimize damage to the park and create a pedestrian and bicycle greenway, to preserve and enhance the park for those who use it recreationally, and for those who live there — the wildlife. (The park was founded as an arboretum and bird sanctuary, after all.) We are currently working to understand the pros and cons of dam removal vs. replacement of the dam, particular to the 3rd Street Dam and Glen Providence Park.
Media Borough, Delaware County and Broomall’s Lake Country Club have also signed a stipulation agreement that seems to include replacing the dam and rebuilding a “roadway.” We acknowledge that the stipulation is a different challenge than PennDOT funding, and one that can probably only be handled by the signatories and their legal counsels.
That said, the stipulation was signed under false assumptions that PennDOT would only fund dam and bridge reconstruction, and that PennDOT was in charge of the project. It is now clear that Media Borough is in charge of the project, and PennDOT will fund any option that restores the public safety of the Third Street Bridge. Is it time to consider all the options? We think so.
Check back regularly for updates and information as we do our research.
What are your priorities and concerns for Glen Providence Park and the Bridge/Dam?