UPDATED 20 DECEMBER 2023
The Newtown Creek has long been a kind of a wall between Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. While there are at least 2 ways for traffic to safely cross the Creek, pedestrians have a harder time of it and often must go out of their way to get from one to the other municipality.
Back in 2019, Mike Sellers, a member of the Newtown Creek Coalition, proposed that a pedestrian bridge be built over the Newtown Creek connecting Sycamore Street in Newtown Township with Frost Lane in Newtown Borough (read “Newtown Creek Coalition Proposes a Pedestrian Bridge”).
There are other bridges over the creek that allow pedestrians to cross. So, why is another bridge needed or desired? Mr. Sellers pointed out that these other bridges – including the vehicle/pedestrian bridge at Jefferson Street – only have one-sided pedestrian crossings. "It's particularly difficult for bikers, walkers, or for people with strollers to get across," said Sellers.
Skip ahead a few years. At the 25 October 2023 #NewtownPA Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors approved a Local Share Account (LSA) Grant application, which requests $999,979.20 for the construction of the Frost Lane Bridge. The Borough signed on as a co-applicant for the loan (read “Newtown Borough Joins #NewtownPA Twp to OK Pursuing Grant To Fund Newtown Creek Pedestrian Bridge Project”).
Meanwhile, another Newtown Creek pedestrian bridge – on the south end of the borough – has been proposed as part of the Borough’s Steeple View project (read “New Timeline Announced For Steeple View Project In #NewtownPA Borough”).
Some History of Steeple View Bridge Discussions With Township Officials
I searched BOS minutes from 2015 through 2023 for any mention of the proposed Steeple View bridge and found the following 2 references to the proposed Steeple View pedestrian bridge (emphasis added):
December 14, 2016: Attorney Tim Duffy, representing the developers of Steepleview, a mixed use development at the former Stockburger property, reviewed the plans, which include a greenway along Newtown Creek in the development's preserved open space. The greenway will run from the Centre Avenue Bridge to an area opposite Carl Sedia Park in Newtown Township. With Township approval and permission he would like to add a pedestrian bridge over the creek, connecting the Township to the Borough through Township owned parkland, where it would connect to Township owned trails and sidewalks. He provided plans for the development as well as photographs of similar bridges. He is awaiting approvals from the DEP and Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Ferguson [Township Manager at the time] asked who would own and maintain the bridge. Mr. Duffy said that the developer would be responsible and would create an agreement among the Developer, the Borough and the Township. An easement to have the bridge footings on Township property will be needed. The ·Board was in agreement that the project would be an asset to Township and Borough residents and that they are open to consideration of an agreement. [BOS members were: Chairman Kyle Davis, Vice Chairman Ryan Gallagher, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Gerry Couch and members Phillip Calabro and Jennifer Dix.]
February 8, 2017: Mr. Calabro said that he recently heard that Steepleview development in Newtown Borough has altered its plans to include age-qualified housing. He asked if the Township is monitoring this project, especially since the Township has agreed to allowing a bridge from the project into a Township park. Mr. Lewis [Township Manager at the time] said that he did not know of any changes to the plans. He said that the Board had agreed to the concept but not to a formal plan for the bridge. He would look into any proposed changes. [BOS members were: Chairman Kyle Davis, Vice Chairman Ryan Gallagher, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Gerry Couch and members Phillip Calabro and Jennifer Dix.]
Are these bridges really necessary? Will there be enough money from grants and sources other than strapped municipal funds to cover the expense? Who will benefit the most – the Borough or the Township?
Considering these questions, I recently invited Newtown area residents to take a short survey and answer a simple question: “In general, how much are you in favor of or opposed to these proposed bridges?”
To date (12/20/2023), 254 survey responses have been collected! 200 (79%) from Newtown Township residents, 42 (17%) from Newtown Borough residents. Nearly 150 comments have been submitted to date. A summary of the ALL the results – including % approved vs. % opposed – is presented below.
Many respondents (58%) were “very much” or “somewhat” in favor of the Frost Lane bridge, whereas less than half (48%) felt the same way about the Steeple View bridge. Meanwhile, 38% and 45%, respectively, were “very much” or “somewhat” opposed to these two bridges (see chart).
Township Versus Borough
The following pie charts show varying opinions regarding the two bridges.
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Newtown Township Residents Results
|35% of Newtown Township resident respondents were very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge (16% were somewhat in favor)
|38% were very much opposed (8% were somewhat opposed)
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Township respondents who were very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge:
- “The walk from the borough to get into town could be 20 minutes shorter for those who live on frost or the far side of frost to get into town. I’ve always thought there should be a trail.” [This respondent had no opinion regarding the Steeple View bridge.]
- “Love the idea of Frost Lane bridge for many reasons - connecting to that area of businesses without heading down to the busy intersection by LaStalla is great...also connecting to the trail if walking and heading towards Eagle Rd. The Steeple View bridge seems so far away and leads into not much in my opinion.” [This respondent was somewhat opposed the Steeple View bridge.]
- “I feel any "walkable" access to the borough is a plus. The last thing we need is more people looking to drive in and having to find a place to park.” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
- “The Frost Lane bridge would enable us to walk from our home near Roberts Ridge Park to the restaurants and store on N. Sycamore and S. eagle Rd. We would also walk our bikes across it. We would use it a lot. I’m not sure how much we would use the Steeple View bridge, unless we move into the development when it is built, which we are considering.” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Township respondents who were very much opposed to the Frost Lane bridge:
- “There appears to be no cost estimates for what the Township will be obligated to pay, not even to mention upkeep and liability/insurance issues. Why would the township agree to open ended costs? And why would the township pay for what are obvious benefits for the Borough, but that have minimal benefit for Newtown Township? [emphasis added] Well because once again, the Borough would like to get into what they see as twp deep pockets! Frost Lane proposal involves a bunch of stacked rocks - of all the things that have historical value, rocks must be the least desirable to spend $100,000 on engineering. That's what the engineering study cost for the Newtown Common in the Borough, and that is a smaller area by far. And what is this bridge supposed to look like? More than likely these historical over-rated boulders will not even be visible once a bridge is built over them! It took eleven years to finally pay for the Nature Center trail cleanup and there are still repairs needed at the Center. Why are they not first priority? The Borough would like Daddy Warbucks to pay for their orphan ideas.” [This respondent was very much opposed the Steeple View bridge.]
- “The frost lane bridge is at the end of the township before 532 continues up the hill. it would be better suited if the bridge was closer to town center so that you didn't need to go to the end of town only to walk back to the center commercial/shopping/dining areas. The steeple view bridge is not a needed bridge there ar enough places to cross over to go into the township already with sidewalks, lighting without another part of the borough/township that the cost of maintaining will eventually be passed onto the taxpayers. [emphasis added]” [This respondent was very much opposed the Steeple View bridge.]
- “Both these bridges favor conveniences for Borough residential neighborhoods but involve mostly Township land. It seems like a lot of appropriation without much benefit to the Township. [emphasis added] Just because the Borough would LIKE it is no rationale for providing it. The Township should continue it's plan to provide more multi use trail extension on Lower Dolington for TOWNSHIP residents who pay taxes. It should catch up to the improvements to TOWNSHIP parks that have been needed for years. Please catch up with road paving. As far as Chandler Field goes, only Borough ball players MIGHT benefit - the Township has many more ball players as per their population, but still most will have to arrive by car. And what about all the boy scouts who have not been able to use the nature trail at Clark Nature Center. Why should they not be taken care of first since they do Eagle projects like flag poles that add to our Parks? Are we talking about a project that might benefit 10 Borough kids when it's really for million dollar condo Steeple residents? [emphasis added] The Borough would not be paying a dime and will pass that buck to the Township. The Borough also has plans for many pocket parks within their boundaries! They also will be connected to the Rail to Trail multi use trail for free. The Borough Council has refused to ask their property owners to take care of the Creek banks. Much was done only by the Creek Coalition, not the Council. Much was also done when the Sycamore St improvements came in on the Twp side. There is an excessive amount of invasive weeds overtaking the Creek banks but the Borough Council will not mandate removal. What the Township can't see but what the Borough knows full well about, will be the Township's problem in the future. Don't be smoked Newtown!” [This respondent was very much opposed the Steeple View bridge.]
- “Waste of money. Won’t get used much if at all.” [This respondent was very much opposed to the Steeple View bridge.]
|27% of Newtown Township resident respondents were very much in favor of the Steeple View bridge (10% were somewhat in favor)
|46% were very much opposed (9% were somewhat opposed)
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Township respondents who were very much in favor of the Steeple View bridge:
- “The Frost Lane bridge is not a big walking area, don’t see that as a huge need. In comparison, the Steeple View bridge proposal is right at a busy area and would offer a more direct path from the borough to the little league fields, which feels like a win!” [This respondent had no opinion regarding the Frost Lane bridge.]
- “We live in Newtown Place and frequently walked into the Borough with our two young children (age 4 and 6). Now that they have outgrown our double stroller, we do not feel safe walking into the Borough with them on their scooters or bikes. Cars often speed along Barclay, not looking for pedestrians on the one way bridge. The other option has us crossing a busy intersection (at Frank’s/711) where cars do not obey the pedestrian walkway. Having a safe path by the ball fields and the Carl Sedia park would be a great option for us who love to walk around town from our large development and beyond. Thank you for your consideration!” [This respondent had no opinion regarding the Frost Lane bridge.]
- “Both bridges have been under consideration or discussion for at least twenty years. My understanding is that the Frost Lane bridge would have grant funding and the Steepleview bridge would be constructed by Steepleview. I see advantages to both locations if there are no objections by impacted property owners. The Frost Lane bridge could help with walking from the Borough to our shopping/dining districts. The same is true for Steepleview but also will be helpful for the chandler fields players, etc. By creating a more walkable community we can eliminate some parking congestion. Any maintenance costs will be insignificant since our public works department is already maintaining Chandler/Carl Sedia and Sycamore Street. Both bridges will serve Township residents far better than some recent trail extensions along busy roads with steep hills. And many Township residents consider it a benefit to be close to the Borough - many don't even know where one ends and the other begins. Many residents consider the very charming borough as a benefit to their property values.” [This respondent was very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge.]
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Township respondents who were very much opposed to the Steeple View bridge:
- “With the Steepleview project being so over developed that lack of parking has been a major hold up, it seems pretty obvious that the Steeple view bridge would lead to residents and visitors using Sycamore avenue as their parking lot. This would result in foot traffic through Carl Sedia park and the cemetery at all hours of the day and night. The project has been approved by "reserving" parking at the Stocking works to meet its parking obligation, but it appears Sycamore Ave provides closer, more accessible parking option, do we really want that?” [This respondent was somewhat in favor of the Frost Lane bridge.]
- “I see no real advantage to the township as a whole for the Steeple View Bridge.” [This respondent was somewhat in favor of the Frost Lane bridge.]
- “What did they do to ensure that the Newtown Creek will not be construction waste and run off?” [This respondent was somewhat in favor of the Frost Lane bridge.]
Over 80 comments from Newtown Township respondents opposed to the Steeple View bridge were received.
Newtown Borough Residents Results
|74% of Newtown Borough resident respondents were very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge (7% were somewhat in favor)
|7% were very much opposed (5% were somewhat opposed)
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Borough respondents who were very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge:
- “This connection is long overdue. The last time the Newtown Township community was publicly surveyed most pedestrians wanted to get to the Boroughs shops and restaurants. Now that the township has such amazing shops and restaurants, I bet if you surveyed the borough’s residents they would overwhelmingly agree that want to walk safely to the township! It’s a win win for everyone. Exercise, traffic calming, community, environmental benifits, business growth, and the best one parking is more available. We need to stop planning for cars and start planning for people :) Thank You!” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
- “These bridges are vital to walkability of residents in Borough and Township and to reduce number of autos which now create huge traffic problems.” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
- “Community access by foot is very much needed, especially for our kids and seniors. Foot traffic crossing the creek in many current locations is treacherous. The vehicle bridge on Barclay is a death trap for pedestrians, something at that end of town would be a massive enhancement, especially for residents trying to walk to the park and or Ball fields. On both end of the Borough, allowing for greater access, by foot to Sycamore would without question cut down on traffic as well would create a safe path for memebers of the community to shop, eat, support local.” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
- “It would be nice to walk or bike with the kids and have more options on how to get from the shops in the township to the shops in the borough. I'd like to walk the Village of Newtown shopping center instead of driving. Unfortunately, I'd have to go out of my way to Jefferson to cross. I'd rather cross at Frost.” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
The following are just a few of the comments from Newtown Borough respondents who were somewhat opposed the Frost Lane bridge:
- “It seems a waste of money, federal/municipal/private, to build two bridges.” .” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
|67% of Newtown Borough resident respondents were very much in favor of the Frost Lane bridge (17% were somewhat in favor)
|9% were very much opposed (2% were somewhat opposed)
The following is a comment from a Newtown Borough respondent who was very much in favor of the Steeple View bridge:
- “I am absolutely in support of anything that makes our Newtown Boro and adjoining Sycamore corridor more walkable and handicapped accessible. The value that it will add to area businesses is immense in that people can shop, eat, drink, bank, etc. on BOTH SIDES of the creek. In the long run, I do not think the expense of building them outweighs their advantages. The cost of maintaining them should fall equally on the Boro and township, just as the present street bridges do [emphasis added].” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Steeple View Bridge.]
The following is a comment from a Newtown Borough respondent who was very much opposed to the Steeple View bridge:
- “The Frost Lane Bridge adds a wonderful strolling and dog walking opportunity in a wooded area and pass thru to Sycamore. While the Steeple view Bridge is small in comparison and wonder at its usefulness. But I am most concerned on that much extra financial and tax implications [emphasis added].” [This respondent was also very much in favor of the Frost Lane Bridge.]
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Posted on 08 Dec 2023, 13:15 - Category: Survey Results