BRIDGE WORK AHEAD

Grosstown Road bridge work part of dizzy­ing ar­ray of re­gional projects

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - DAILY LOCAL NEWS - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

The new bridge car­ry­ing Grosstown Road over the Manatawny Creek will close for two weeks on Mon­day, Aug. 13, through Fri­day, Aug. 24.

The day­time clo­sures will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are nec­es­sary for in­stal­la­tion of a storm sewer man­hole, guardrail and paving work.

Dur­ing the day­time, mo­torists will be di­rected to fol­low a six-mile de­tour along West High Street and Manatawny Street, re­ports the of­fice of state Rep. Marcy Toe­pel, R147th Dist.

In the event of un­fa­vor­able weather or un­fore­seen ac­tiv­i­ties, this sched­ule may change.

The bridge opened to traf­fic in De­cem­ber 2017.

Con­struc­tion be­gan in Au­gust 2017 and the project was one of the 558 bridges in Penn­syl­va­nia, and one of five in Mont­gomery County, re­placed un­der the Rapid Bridge Re­place­ment Project at a cost of $899 mil­lion.

The clo­sure rep­re­sents just one of many bridge projects and clo­sures that can make nav­i­gat­ing the re­gion’s road­ways a bit of a chal­lenge.

Penn­syl­va­nia is strug­gling to close a back­log of long-de­layed bridge con­struc­tion and main­te­nance projects, per­haps driven by the fact that Penn­syl­va­nia is home more than 86,000 miles of rivers,

streams, and creeks — sec­ond in the United States only to Alaska.

At 22,779 bridges over­all, Penn­syl­va­nia has the ninth high­est amount in the coun­try.

The av­er­age age of bridges on the state sys­tem is more than 50 years old, ac­cord­ing to PennDOT.

And at 4,173, Penn­syl­va­nia cur­rently has the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of struc­turally de­fi­cient bridges in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing a re­port from the Amer­i­can Road and Trans­porta­tion Build­ing As­so­ci­a­tion re­leased in Jan­uary.

Over the last 10 years, 2,341 new bridges have been con­structed in the state and 2,077 have un­der­gone ma­jor re­con­struc­tion.

Penn­syl­va­nia has iden­ti­fied needed re­pairs on 13,894 bridges over­all, which the state es­ti­mates will cost $7.7 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

But the state has also made great progress in ad­dress­ing the prob­lem of crum­bling bridges.

Ac­cord­ing to the agency’s num­bers through 2017, the state’s num­ber of de­fi­cient bridges has been nearly cut in half since 2008, from 6,034 to 3,114 as of Jan. 1., ac­cord­ing to a Feb. 11 re­port in the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette.

Un­for­tu­nately, 200 to 250 bridges are added to the “struc­turally de­fi­cient list” each year, the pa­per re­ported.

Some bridges are owned by the state, oth­ers by the county and still oth­ers by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and fund­ing to re­pair and re­place them is of­ten from a patch­work of sources.

In ad­di­tion to the mas­sive, years-long ef­fort to re­place two sets of Route 422 bridges over the Schuylkill River — one set between Lower Pottsgrove and North Coven­try and the other between West Pottsgrove and North Coven­try; as well as the new Ar­mand Ham­mer Boule­vard bridge over the high­way; and the new high­way bridge over Porter Road and the Nor­folk South­ern freight rail line — there is no short­age of lo­cal re­pair and re­place­ment projects. They in­clude: • The cur­rent $800,000 to $900,000 re­place­ment of the 97-year-old Ru­pert Road bridge over Harten­s­tine Creek in Lower Pottsgrove,

• In Amity Town­ship, North Main Street will be closed and de­toured for work to re­ha­bil­i­tate the bridge over Mono­cacy Creek be­gin­ning next week.

Be­gin­ning Tues­day, Aug. 8, and last­ing through midNovem­ber, Main Street will be closed and de­toured between Mono­cacy Creek Road and Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue, PennDOT an­nounced. Ac­cess will be main­tained to all prop­er­ties.

• Last month, Old Read­ing Pike in West Pottsgrove near the Pottstown wa­ter treat­ment plant was closed while PennDOT re­places a struc­turally de­fi­cient bridge that crosses an un­named stream there.

• In June, PennDOT be­gan work to re­ha­bil­i­tate the bridge car­ry­ing Hares Hill Road over French Creek in East Pikeland Town­ship.

Hares Hill Road has been closed and de­toured between Camp Coun­cil Road and Ir­ish Way and will re­main so through late Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to PennDOT.

• In New Hanover, plans to re­place a bridge on Swamp Pike and an­other on North Char­lotte Street in 2019 and 2020 will have both roads closed for up to 12 weeks while they are re­placed by con­struc­tion crews.

• Mont­gomery County’s struc­tural re­pair of the Henry Road bridge over West Perkiomen Creek in Dou­glass Town­ship is in the fi­nal en­gi­neer­ing phase and work is set to be­gin in 2019, ac­cord­ing to Dou­glass Town­ship Man­ager Pete Hiryak.

• Fi­nal de­sign plans for the re­place­ment of County Line Road bridge between Dou­glass and Cole­brook­dale town­ships have been ac­cepted by PennDOT, and work is set to be­gin in 2020, said Hiryak.

• PennDOT’s re­place­ment of the Congo Road bridge over Mid­dle Creek is in the fi­nal en­gi­neer­ing stage with a ten­ta­tive con­struc­tion start date of 2020, he said.

• De­sign work for PennDOT’s re­place­ment of the Niantic Road bridge over the West Branch of Perkiomen Creek has be­gun and a ten­ta­tive start date for that con­struc­tion work is in 2021, he said.

• No start date has been set yet for PennDOT’s plans to re­place the Gil­bertsville Road bridge over a trib­u­tary of Min­is­ter Creek south of Grosser Road and de­sign work has not yet be­gun, ac­cord­ing to Hiryak.

• Mont­gomery County has be­gun work on re­plac­ing the Pa­per Mill Road bridge over Perkiomen Creek in Dou­glass and work is ex­pected to take six to eight months, he said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, last Septem­ber, Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved con­tracts and projects for 19 bridge projects while also hav­ing 35 ac­tive bridge projects al­ready un­der­way.

Among the 19 projects, some of which are men­tioned above, were lo­cal bridges such as:

• Award­ing an en­gi­neer­ing con­tract for the Lutheran Road bridge over Min­is­ter Creek in New Hanover Town­ship;

• Award­ing a con­tract for the Peevy Road bridge over Perkiomen Creek in Up­per Hanover Town­ship;

• Re­quest for en­gi­neer­ing pro­pos­als for the Ludwig Road bridge in New Hanover Town­ship.

And what story about area bridges would be com­plete with­out men­tion of the Keim Street bridge over the Schuylkill river between Pottstown and North Coven­try?

The bridge was closed in 2010 af­ter be­ing de­clared struc­turally un­sound.

The lat­est up­date was pro­vided in April by the Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers dur­ing their an­nual lis­ten­ing tour.

They said con­struc­tion on re­plac­ing that bridge is set to be­gin in 2020.

When the county com­mis­sion­ers vis­ited Pottstown in 2016 in a sim­i­lar fo­rum, Com­mis­sion­ers’s Chair­woman Val Arkoosh, then the board’s vice chair­man, said “con­struc­tion will be start­ing in 2019 and it will take 18 months to build.”

One of the things that makes the project a slow one is that fact that 80 per­cent of the cost is be­ing shoul­dered by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WEST POTTSGROVE TOWN­SHIP

The new Grosstown Road bridge over Manatawny Creek shortly af­ter it opened. The bridge will be closed for at least two weeks start­ing Aug. 12 for ad­di­tional work.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

The Ru­pert Road bridge was closed in July.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

This view of the Keim Street bridge shows the grass that is grown in the cracks of the bridge while driv­ers await the 10 or more years it will take to re­place it.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

New Hanover Po­lice Chief Kevin McKeon out­lines pos­si­ble de­tour routes for when Swamp Pike is closed to re­place a small bridge between Wag­ner Road and New Hanover Square Road.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Struc­tural re­pair of the Henry Road bridge in Dou­glass is set to be­gin in 2019.

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