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Sheepford Road Bridge decision expected next week, county official says

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
A bridge engineer for York and Cumberland counties  recommended the permanent closure of the historic Sheepford Road bridge, dealing a blow to group of locals lobbying for the bridge's restoration. Wednesday, September 16, 2020.  John A. Pavoncello photo

The York County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote next week on the future of the Sheepford Road Bridge, Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Wednesday.

Brian Emberg, a bridge engineer for York and Cumberland counties, which jointly own the bridge, recommended the bridge be permanently closed after it failed a safety inspection and was found to be unnecessary for local traffic in a recent closure and removal study.

But an active group of locals who live near the bridge have been lobbying for the two county boards to save the bridge for its historic value.

"We all want to do what's in the best interest for everyone, so a lot of reflection, a lot of consideration has gone into this," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said she's optimistic the commissioners will offer a proposal next Wednesday that's amenable to officials from both counties and to the Friends of Sheepford Road Bridge advocacy group.

She declined to offer any specific details about what the proposal might look like. 

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners will likely vote on a proposal at its next meeting, Wheeler said, followed by the York County board.

The Cumberland County commissioners have a workshop meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday and a regular board meeting at 2 p.m. Monday.

Lower Allen Township residents Joan Lenker, left, and Janice Lynx are working to save a bridge spanning the Yellow Breeches Creek that was built in the late 1800's.  
Wednesday, December 11, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

History: The Sheepford Road Bridge, an aluminum and iron truss bridge built in 1887, crosses the Yellow Breeches Creek between Fairview and Lower Allen townships, connecting York and Cumberland counties.

It's one of nine bridges jointly managed by the two counties.

The bridge needs significant repairs and would cost $1.3 million to rehabilitate, Emberg has reported.

Janice Lynx, an organizer with the Friends of Sheepford Road Bridge, has argued the bridge is a valuable historic site that should be preserved either as a vehicular bridge or a pedestrian bridge.

Advocates for saving the bridge have also said they're afraid to lose the bridge as an evacuation route in case something goes wrong at the Mariner East 2 pipeline that bisects Cumberland County, but county officials have said the bridge would not be a viable escape route if there were a leak or other incident at the pipeline.

Lynx could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

More:Study poses major setback for group lobbying to save Sheepford Road Bridge

More:Residents rally for York-Cumberland bridge built in 19th century