The future of the historic Mine Road Bridge in Hopewell Township is in jeopardy. The truss bridge, straddling the Stony Brook on Mine Road off of Route 31 in Hopewell Township, suffered some damage in recent years after a storm and has since been closed to all traffic. Mercer County proposes to replace the bridge with a brand new, much wider structure. The bridge, as built, has a 4-ton load rating. The County proposes a brand new bridge with a 40-ton load capacity. Hopewell Township will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, January 27 at 5pm, to discuss the Bridge’s future.

Erected in 1885, the Mine Road Truss Bridge is one of only two iron truss bridges that remain in Hopewell Township and is the only one in its original site. Originally manufactured by the King Iron Bridge Company, the bridge served a mine, for which the bridge and road are named, which was established after one of Hopewell’s original settlers, Roger Parke, discovered a nugget of silver. While no more silver was ever found during the Colonial period, the mine resumed in the nineteenth century extracting baryta, also known as white lead, according to Hopewell: A Historical Geography by Richard Hunter and Richard Porter.

The Hopewell Township Historic Preservation Commission (HTHPC) passed a Resolution in fall 2020 requesting that the County reconsider its plans to replace the historic Mine Road Truss Bridge, based on its deep local history and designation as a Township historic landmark. The Resolution was forwarded to the Hopewell Township Committee, which scheduled the public meeting to hear from residents.

One of the HTHPC commissioners, Anita Crane said: “It is an important symbol of bygone days when Mine Road linked farms, mines, and quarries along Stony Brook.  Aesthetically, it sits in a small valley surrounded by farmland and wooded area.  Standing on it, you can see through the iron webbed floor to the bubbling brook below that beckons trout fishing. To move this bridge to another location would compromise the beauty of the location and its historical significance for Hopewell Township and Mercer County.”

The HTHPC proposes that the County work in conjunction with the Township to rehabilitate the Mine Road Bridge, “using it to its greatest potential while preserving it as the last iron truss bridge remaining in situ in Hopewell Township.” Specifically, the HTHPC urges the County to either (a) conduct minor repairs of the Mine Road Bridge in order to bring it to safety standards for a 4-ton load rating; or (b) close the Mine Road Bridge permanently, leaving it as a pedestrian/ bicycle trail only.

The Township Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss the alternatives and listen to the community’s preferences for the future of this bridge on Wednesday, January 27 at 5pm. The agenda and Zoom link are posted in the Agenda Center on the Township website. At this meeting, the County will present the various options it is considering. The Township Committee encourages interested community members to voice their opinions at the meeting.

Public comment will be accepted at the meeting or by contacting Laurie Gompf, the Township Clerk, at lgompf@hopewelltwp.org.

Related documents can be found here (Mercer County recommendations) and here (Hopewell Township Historic Preservation Commission Resolution.

UPDATED: Meeting link – http://www.hopewelltwp.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01272021-1527

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