TRENTON, N.J.—An archeological analysis of the area surrounding Jacobs Creek Bridge in Hopewell Township has been received and reviewed by Mercer County, and the consultant hired to perform the survey concludes that the exact movement through the area by Gen. George Washington and his troops cannot be precisely determined from archival information, and that the location proposed for a new bridge over Jacobs Creek has already been disturbed by sewer construction in the 1990s.
The report further concludes that taking soil samples in the area where the new bridge is proposed would “probably not be useful” in gleaning further historic information, however, Mercer County plans to move forward with soil sampling, in consult with the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJHPO). “Probably does not mean definitely,” said County Executive Brian M. Hughes, “and we will move ahead with the second phase of this study to allay the concerns that people may have about possibly finding significant artifacts in the area of the proposed bridge.”
In December 2009, Mercer County hired multi-faceted historic preservation and cultural resources management firm John Milner Associates, Inc. to conduct an archeological survey of the immediate area surrounding the existing bridge, a study that is required under the Department of Environmental Protection’s Fresh Water Stream Encroachment permitting process. The County has worked closely with the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJHPO) to establish the scope of work performed by the consultant, and will consult with that office on next steps in the Jacobs Creek Bridge project, Hughes stressed.
“The safety of the people who live, work and go to school on the other side of Jacobs Creek is our primary concern and the best way to achieve that goal is to build a new, modern bridge that meets federal safety standards.” Hughes said. “We will work with the state Historic Preservation Office to meet that goal, while creating a bridge that is aesthetically appropriate to the rural setting,” Hughes said.
In the meantime, Hughes had the Passing Zone in front of Bear Tavern School eliminated, is seeking to lower the speed limit along certain sections of Bear Tavern Road and has received approval from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to prohibit commercial vehicles over 4 tons on Bear Tavern Road north of I-95.
The archeological report can be accessed in full at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/news/releases/pdf/news_jcbarchreport.pdf.
The written analysis by John Milner Associates was drafted after the consultant reviewed all relevant historical information about the area in question including information found in books, government records, roadway delineations known as “road returns,” old maps, and other sources the firm deemed significant.
The County has been following recommendations set by NJHPO throughout this process. The County’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for the archaeological survey work was sent to firms recommended by NJHPO based on the firms’ expertise in this field, and the State Historic Preservation Office’s specific instructions about which historical features firms would be expected to investigate were included in the RFP. Following this RFP process, John Milner Associates was selected to perform the work.
The County Executive has accelerated the process of surveying in order to keep the Jacobs Creek Bridge project as open and transparent as possible. The area studied in Phase 1A of the survey can be found by visiting the DOT home page on the Mercer County website at