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Township Questions State Bridge Report

SANATOGA PA – The state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has suggested “Priority 1” repairs – those demanding immediate attention – be made to the Sunnybrook Road bridge that crosses Sprogels Run just north of Kepler Road. But PennDOT’s chief complaint, that bridge guardrails need fixing, hasn’t been heard since year 2000 … even though the bridge has been inspected regularly since then.

The agency’s seemingly out-of-the-blue urgency has township officials questioning why now, and what’s the rush?

A car travels across the Sunnybrook Road bridge over Sprogels Run, north of East High Street in Sanatoga.

A car travels across the Sunnybrook Road bridge over Sprogels Run, north of East High Street in Sanatoga.

They also can guess at an answer: the state this year hired a different third-party engineering firm to conduct its bridge studies. Although no Lower Pottsgrove representative said as much openly during the township Board of Commissioners‘ meeting last week (Jan. 5, 2009), there were plenty of hints that township leaders believe the inspection contractor was purposely looking for problems to solve.

“We’ve done everything (the state) wanted with that bridge during the last 10 years,” an exasperated township Manager Rodney Hawthorne told commissioners. “To date, we’ve given them all the fixes they’ve asked for.” The latest request, unless rescinded, must be completed within six months and would cost $5,000 or more. “And that’s not in the (township 2009) budget,” Hawthorne added.

The existing guardrails were installed nine years ago, in response to what also was a PennDOT request. Since then, Hawthorne noted, the condition of the guardrails “has never been commented on.”

Scott Exley, representing the township’s engineering firm, Bursich Associates Inc. of Sanatoga, said he would have his engineers look more closely at the bridge “and talk with PennDOT to see why it’s a Priority 1.”

The bridge is located on Sunnybrook Road slightly more than a half-mile north of its intersection with East High Street. The bridge’s north end is immediately adjacent to the entrance of the township’s 8.9-acre Alfred B. Miles Park, which is bordered by Sprogels Run for its entire length.

In its letter discussing the Sunnybrook Road bridge, PennDOT also commented on the condition of a bridge on Sanatoga Station Road.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 5 meeting):

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