“Washington’s Victory Trail” Landscape Faces Potential Redevelopment
The Bear Tavern Road Bridge, spanning Jacob’s Creek in Hopewell Township, has been a topic of much discussion for several decades, and the issue has recently emerged into the spotlight once again. Mercer County has proposed replacing Bear Tavern Road Bridge, recently closed completely to traffic due to safety concerns, and realigning Bear Tavern Road at its intersection with Jacob’s Creek Road. The “Save the Victory Trail and Jacob’s Creek Bridge” local advocacy group is working to raise awareness of the plans and not only the bridge, but the surrounding landscape, which is, according to the Crossroads of the American Revolution Association, extremely historically significant. It appears that this is one of very few locations along the “Washington Victory Trail” (the route taken by George Washington and his men on their December 26, 17776 march to Trenton) that remains much as did did during that nationally significant event 233 years ago.
Current plans include relocation of the truss bridge itself, a later addition dating to the 1880s that is designated a Hopewell Township landmark, to local Alliger Park for preservation. The bridge would then be replaced several yards downstream to coincide with the realignment of Bear Tavern Road. There has been much debate regarding the potential for rehabilitation of the bridge in place or replacement without realignment of the road. Mercer County officials are working with The Crossroads of the American Revolution Association, the State Historic Preservation Office, and other interested groups to balance the need for safety and access in the area with its historic integrity. Preservation New Jersey encourages further study of the area and situation in order to arrive at a final solution that protects the historic integrity of both the historic Bear Tavern Road Bridge and the nationally significant landscape that surrounds it.