Popular Delaware trail closed after flood damage

 The crumbling underpinning of the bridge has forced park leaders to close it. (photo courtesy DNREC)

The crumbling underpinning of the bridge has forced park leaders to close it. (photo courtesy DNREC)

Superstorm Sandy and other flooding severely damaged a bridge in Brandywine Creek State Park, forcing park officials to permanently close the bridge and block a portion of the Creek Road Trail.

In October 2012, the underpinning of the Rocky Run Bridge was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Since that time, the crossing has been restricted to pedestrian use. In the months following the storm, additional flooding damage further eroded the support structure for the bridge.

“Its integrity for any use was deemed as unsafe,” said Paul Nicholson, Parks and Recreation operations administrator for DNREC. The ruling means no pedestrian or bicycle traffic will be allowed to cross the bridge.

The bridge was the link between the park’s Rockland Road and Thompson’s Bridge parking areas.

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A new crossing

Park officials said a new bridge will be built in the same area, but only when “funding is available.” Whenever the new crossing is designed and built, park leaders say it will be built outside of the floodplain to avoid a similar situation to the one that led to the demise of the current bridge.

However, that replacement can’t come soon enough for members of the Wilmington Trail Club.

“We are very disappointed that the bridge at Rocky Run has been closed,” said WTC member Dave Koppeser. “[We] hope that an alternate route can be laid out very soon, even if it involves a ‘wet’ crossing of the creek.”

The club, which consists of more than 800 members, organizes as many as 20 hikes every year along the east bank of the Brandywine River through Brandywine Creek State Park. Without a bridge to cross the water, Koppeser believes that the hundreds of people who use the trail every week will start find their own alternative route.

“They will be making their own trails through the woods and through the creek,” he said. “This will needlessly destroy a lot of natural vegetation in Rocky Run.”

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