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Report: Six Bridges In Township ‘Structurally Deficient’

Vehicles cross the Rupert Road bridge, headed in opposite directions, last October

SANATOGA PA – Six of 18 highway bridges located within two miles of Sanatoga village center – radiating from the intersection of North Pleasant View Road and East High Street – are structurally deficient, in need of significant or extensive repairs, and sometimes go uninspected for years, according to new report by a Washington DC-based lobbying organization called “Transportation For America.”

Deteriorating concrete and exposed reinforcing steel are evident on the Rupert Road bridge

The report, titled “The Fix We’re In For,” was publicly released Wednesday (March 30, 2011). It claims that

  • the Rupert Road bridge crossing Hartenstine Creek,
  • the U.S. Route 422 bridge crossing Sanatoga Road,
  • the U.S. Route 422 bridge crossing Norfolk Southern railroad tracks west of Porter Road,
  • the South Pleasant View Road bridge crossing Sanatoga Creek,
  • the Armand Hammer Boulevard bridge crossing Norfolk Southern tracks near the entrance ramp to 422, and
  • the Sunnybrook Road bridge crossing Sprogels Run

all pose safety risks to the public if not quickly addressed. The report’s goal, the group clearly notes, is to motivate Congress to allocate sufficient funding to get the work started.

In fact, it added, on average one of every four bridges within Pennsylvania over which Lower Pottsgrove, Limerick or Pottstown area residents might travel are seriously flawed. The state has more structurally deficient bridges – a total of 5,906 – than any other in the nation, Transportation For America charged.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in an interview Monday (April 4) with The Pennsylvania Independent online news service, acknowledged the state has many bridge problems. In The Independent’s story, however, agency representatives said the lobbying group relied upon dated federal information in its report, and that heightened repair efforts had reduced the number of deficient bridges by several hundred structures.

Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township officials have for years recognized problems at some bridges within its borders. Work on the two structures carrying U.S. Route 422 traffic is scheduled to get under way with PennDOT contractors in several months. Problems with the Sunnybrook Road bridge have been the subject of long-term discussions between PennDOT and the township engineer, Bursich Associates Inc.

But of all bridges on the local list of deficiencies, the one that may be most prominent is the heavily-used Rupert Road bridge. Traffic from the Woodgate subdivision, on the road’s west side; from the newer housing community surrounding Raven’s Claw Golf Club on the road’s east side; and from drivers traveling Rupert to reach the Sanatoga interchange of 422, all have added to concerns expressed by township commissioners and Manager Rodney Hawthorne.

Hawthorne in the past has said he hopes that further residential growth in the same area, if and when the real estate market returns, might include a deal with developers to help pay for the bridge’s reconstruction.

Time and heavy use have taken their toll on the side barriers of the Rupert Road bridge too. The structure was built in 1921, when Lower Pottsgrove had only three commissioners.

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