Looking to spruce up your backyard? Unable to find the perfect gift for a loved one? Tired of taking the long way to work because of a river, railroad tracks or some other obstacle?
Well, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has you covered. PennDOT and the state Department of General Services have announced that the historic Pond Eddy Bridge in Pike County is for sale. The state-owned bridge is among 10 other county- and municipality-owned bridges for sale in Pennsylvania.
For between $1 and $500, one of the bridges could be yours. And it‘s not just any old bridge that gets put on the market. It’s a bridge of such significant historic value that, in order to avoid demolition, the state will almost give it away.
In some cases, PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will even pay for the removal and shipping of the bridge.
“There‘s no reason to get rid of them. They are actually really well-built bridges,” said Rick Frunzi, chairman of the board of directors at Greenbank Mill in Wilmington, Del., which received the Wawa Station Bridge from Delaware County.
The bridge was rehabilitated and moved with funds from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that the mill received in 2003 after destruction caused by Tropical Storm Henri. The bridge spans Red Clay Creek at the mill, where it serves at once as museum exhibit, pedestrian walkway and even an educational tool.
“It’s there for engineering students to study,” he said, noting that many of the bridges PennDOT sells are examples of superb design. “The only downside is they don‘t hold the weight of modern traffic.”
“It’s one of those specialty items that not too many people would buy to put it into use,” said Judy Gingher, secretary for Tunkhannock Township in Wyoming County, which recently paid $500 to buy a Nicholson Township bridge to allow easier pedestrian movement in the local LazyBrook Park. “It‘s just the perfect setting for it.”
Dover Township, in York County, recently paid a dollar to buy the nearby Meadowview Road Bridge to be placed behind the municipal building as part of a new park. Construction to prepare space for the bridge, such as the building of abutments, will push the total price tag up to $20,000, according to township manager Laurel Oswalt.
Constructing a bridge from scratch would have cost between $40,000 and $60,000, she said.
But the bridge sales are not solely for municipalities and parks. Individuals can bid, too.
Art Suckewer, the founder and CEO of a New Jersey technology business, bought two historic Western Pennsylvania bridges -- one from Armstrong County and the other from Carlton, Mercer County -- for his 30-acre farm in Mercer County, N.J.
“The property is hilly with several stream crossings. Since I have difficulty walking due to an old injury, I began looking into improving access,” Mr. Suckewer said in a recent email. “I thought using historic bridges would fit the context of the setting, preserve history, and provide an elegant solution.”
If no one purchases or agrees to take the bridges, they will be demolished and scrapped, according to PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick.
In the effort to save the historic structures, PennDOT has adapted the mantra of a relentless salesman.
“If you don’t see a bridge that might work for you, we sometimes have other bridges not yet being marketed that might suit your needs,” says PennDOT‘s website.
Matt Nussbaum: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1504 or on Twitter @MatthewNussbaum