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Nearly 50 years later, Wilkinson Road bridge being rebuilt

Nearly 50 years later, Wilkinson Road bridge being rebuilt
Nearly 50 years after a bridge connecting both sides of Wilkinson Road in Havre de Grace was washed away, a new one will be installed this summer. The new bridge will be for pedestrians and bicyclists only - it will not be open to vehicles. (Erika Butler/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun)

A bridge over a small tributary of Deer Creek on Wilkinson Road in Havre de Grace was washed away nearly 50 years ago — next month it is being replaced.

The bridge over Elbow Branch was damaged in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes, Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for Harford County government, said.

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“That was for motor vehicles at the time and the county was looking to rebuild after the flood damage, but couldn’t get a right of way,” Mumby said.

The new bridge will be for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only, she said, to provide a safer way to get to Susquehanna State Park.

Joe Frederick, who lives at the end of Wilkinson Road on the park side, said he doesn’t want the pedestrian bridge. He was notified about a year and a half ago of the county’s intent to install the bridge.

He would rather have a vehicular bridge.

“That would keep traffic flowing,” said Frederick, who bought the 8.9-acre property in 2013.

People in vehicles get lost all the time looking for the park and end up wandering around the trails on his private property all the time, he said.

Frederick said he’s had “no trespassing” and “private property” signs stolen.

“I’m at the end of the road, I don’t want people wandering around,” Frederick said.

He’s spoken with his neighbors, who he said are puzzled by the bridge.

“Most of us wonder why this is needed, who knew someone to have it done,” he said. “We think it’s a waste of taxpayer money, when the cost of the bridge could be used to pay for a teacher."

One of his neighbors is a bike rider, but he carries his bike across the stream. He imagines his neighbor will use the bridge once it’s there, but he didn’t pursue having it installed, Frederick said.

The bridge is being replaced because of requests from people in the community, pedestrians and bicyclists looking for safer access to the park, Mumby said. And a pedestrian bridge does not require a right of way that precluded the motor vehicle bridge.

“We did have requests from the community —remember there was a bridge in that spot at one time,” Mumby said. “They will have limited access by creating a pedestrian bridge.”

Route 161, which is used to access Susquehanna State Park, has no shoulders and is dangerous for bike riders and pedestrians, she said.

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“This will create a safer access point,” Mumby said.

Pedestrians could cross the creek when the water is low, "but it’s not safe and it can’t accommodate bicyclists,” she said.

The connection is also consistent with the goals of HarfordNext master plan, which are to improve walk-ability and bike-ability in Harford County, Mumby said.

The total bridge project is $60,000 — $30,000 for the bridge and $30,000 for the remaining work to be done, including design, engineering and installation.

The pedestrian truss bridge will be 6-feet wide by 40-feet long, Mumby said. The previous vehicle bridge was 30-feet wide.

It is expected to be delivered in mid-August and the connection should be open by the end of August or beginning of September, Mumby said.

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