The Walnut Street Bridge in Perkasie, closed for reconstruction last October, opened Wednesday with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony that heralded its $5.1 million architectural face-lift.
The bridge, which allows easier navigation around the borough, spans the east branch of the Perkiomen Creek.
Bucks County commissioners, members of the Perkasie Borough Council, and local residents celebrated the bridge's reopening with an inaugural bridge-crossing, procession, and reception.
It is the fourth version of the bridge since it first opened in 1867 and connected the already established Bridgetown with the developing village of Comleyville, which was later renamed Perkasie, according to the Perkasie Historical Society.
The latest rebuild was a long time coming, said Perkasie Mayor John Hollenbach. The work had been scheduled several times, but financial issues delayed the project for years until the county finally came up with the money.
"It's certainly going to be a wonderful thing for the businesses," Hollenbach, a lifelong Perkasie resident, said in an interview before the ribbon-cutting. "This bridge being down certainly directed and caused some traffic issues for us at different spots in the town. Nothing we couldn't handle, but there was some inconvenience to get to some businesses."
The bridge, owned by Bucks County, measures an estimated 210 feet long and 49 feet wide. It accommodates two lanes of traffic, and sidewalks line both sides of the bridge.
As part of the rebuild, the road leading to the bridge was fitted with better sidewalks and drainage features, new vehicular and pedestrian signage, and ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other changes, county spokesman Larry King said.
H&K Group Inc., of Douglasville, was hired as the project's contractor, and Warrington-based Carroll Engineering Corp. handled bridge and roadway design.
The state will reimburse the county for 80 percent of the $5.1 million it spent to plan and construct the bridge, hopefully within a month, King said.
The newest incarnation of the bridge hardly resembles the first version, which was built from wood and used by workers and students to cross the creek to go to work and school, according to the borough's Historical Society.
But the bridge hasn't forgotten its history. Four plaques attached to the structure recognize that the bridge was first constructed in 1867, rebuilt in 1907 because of growing safety concerns, and widened in 1970 before officials shut down the deteriorating bridge in 2017 to build it anew.
The new bridge, King said, is expected to last for at least a century.