National Park Service
News Release Date: September 27, 2022
Morristown, N.J. – Funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a $79,876 trail bridge reconstruction project in Morristown National Historical Park was recently completed through a partnership with Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School. The project was a priority due to the age of the bridge supports and the erosion of soil and stones along the stream bank that supported the bridge.
“We are so appreciative of the hard work and craftsmanship by the students and interns, which will allow the thousands of visitors and equestrians who use our trails to have a structurally sound and historically accurate bridge to cross for many years to come,” said Park Superintendent Tom Ross at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the project.
The work is part of ongoing efforts by the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve, restore and rehabilitate park infrastructure and facilities. The bridge is located on the Grand Loop Trail (White Trail) where it crosses the Primrose Brook within the park’s Jockey Hollow Area. After Congress established the park in 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed the original trail bridge in 1939 when they built hiking trails throughout the park. The bridge was most recently rehabilitated in 1993.
Mather is a career and technical education school located in New York City. In partnership with the NPS, its students can receive hands-on experience in building and landscaping trades that emphasize high-quality craftsmanship and specialized building arts. For five weeks this summer, students, recent graduates, and teachers from the school worked with NPS Maintenance Action Team (MAT) staff from the regional Historic Architecture, Conservation, and Engineering Center and the National Parks of New York Harbor to rebuild the bridge and complete other trail repairs in the park.
Maximilian McGinley and Adam Richardson, Mather graduates from the Class of 2022, participated in the project as part of the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center’s Traditional Trades Advancement Program. The program is an immersive experience in the historic trades where young people gain critical on-the-job experience to introduce them to potential careers in historic preservation.
Working with them was another Mather graduate, Joshua Rivera, Class of 2018, who is currently training to become a career and technical education teacher at Mather High School. Rivera joined the project to gain field experience in preservation carpentry to better prepare him to convey those skills to students in the classroom.
The other students were part of a Student Conservation Association Community Crew, which provided an opportunity to apply and expand their curriculum from Mather. Matthew Jacobs, who manages the Mather partnership and program for the NPS, emphasized how important student work is to our communities and to public service.
“I think it’s really impressive that now, in 2022, this group of young people have been able to make their mark and continue the legacy of the CCC,” Jacobs said. “This project, and all the projects Mather youth have completed over the past 10 years, are all reminders of the amazing difference young people can make when they are given a chance.”
Infrastructure funding from GAOA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and other construction funding sources are part of a concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education and enjoyment for current and future visitors. Approximately $14 million from the fund is supporting geographically based MAT projects in 59 national parks, including Morristown National Historical Park. MATs train people in traditional preservation trades and provide cost-effective solutions to complete maintenance and repair work on historic structures.
Last year, 332,000 park visitors spent an estimated $21.6 million in local communities while visiting Morristown National Historical Park. These expenditures supported a total of 244 jobs, $13.1 million in labor income, $21.0 million in value-added, and $32.2 million in economic output in local communities.