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Will Road Be Closed When School Re-Opens?

SANATOGA PA – An owner of property near the East High Street bridge that the state plans to barricade and repair this year said Monday (May 4, 2009) that he’s been advised the work may not actually begin until August. If true, alarmed members of the Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township Board of Commissioners said, the road might still be closed as schools re-opened.

The fear of having school buses take either narrower back roads or a U.S. Route 422 detour to ferry students to and from classes prompted the board to again call for discussions with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) over its bridge reconstruction efforts and time line.

A Pottsgrove school bus picks up a student on East High Street in this September 2008 file photo.

A Pottsgrove school bus picks up a student on East High Street.

Commissioners also openly pleaded for area residents to collectively pressure PennDOT for changes in its bridge work plans, which the township worries will create safety problems, hurt local businesses, and severely inconvenience drivers. So far, board members admitted, they’ve gotten nowhere with the department.

  • This story is an overview only. Several items from Monday’s meeting will be covered separately in greater detail this week by The Post.

PennDOT has said it could take four to six months to fix the stone bridge that crosses Sanatoga Creek between Sanatoga Road and Allison Drive. It intends to straighten the bridge, fill cracks in its masonry, and install a new retaining barrier. The bridge would be closed during that time, and traffic would be diverted over U.S. Route 422 from Armand Hammer Boulevard in Pottstown to the Sanatoga interchange.

J. Wilmer “Wil” Hallman, whose Sanatoga Ridge Community owns land at East High Street and Sanatoga Road that the state wants to lease as a repair staging area, said a PennDOT representative told him contractor bids for the repairs would not be solicited until June. Given a 60-day bidding process, Hallman noted, that pushes the start of work into August.

Schools in the Pottsgrove School District are scheduled to re-open for classes Aug. 31 (2009; Monday).

PennDOT representatives could not be reached Monday night for comment on Hallman’s report. Commissioners, however, had no shortage of complaints. “I’m disappointed,” board member Anthony Doyle said. “I’m disgusted,” Commissioner James Phillips added. “It’s just not fair to this commission or the township,” Stephen Klotz chipped in.

The commission’s directive to township staff members is to try and arrange a second, public meeting with PennDOT, one which they say had been promised but never materialized. If held, board members said, a big taxpayer turn-out would be helpful. “We get 250 people to fill a room, complaining about this,” Doyle said, “and it’ll be hard for PennDOT to ignore.”

Also Monday, commissioners:

Related:

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