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Bridge Damage Closes Pruss Hill Road ‘Indefinitely’

Cone-like barriers and mounds of gravel are intended to block passage of vehicles on both sides of the Pruss Hill Road bridge in Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township

SANATOGA PA – Pruss Hill Road in Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township, which has become a favorite thoroughfare for drivers traveling from the township’s west side to U.S. Route 422 and destinations east, will be indefinitely closed between Schaeffer and North Pleasant View roads, township Roadmaster John Fogel has told the Board of Commissioners.

Although a detour is established and marked with small orange signs, the open-ended nature of Pruss Hill Road’s future is causing concerns among both longer-distance motorists and residents of homes along the township’s eastern border with Limerick, particularly inside the Woodgate housing community.

A recent engineering study conducted on the bridge that crosses Sanatoga Creek in front of the Pruss Hill Pond dam has determined it to be structurally unsound. Local motorists can travel most of the road’s length up to closure points on either side of the bridge, but at those points cone-like barriers and mounds of gravel piled in the roadway are intended to block passage.

Repairs of guard rail damage along the Pruss Hill roadside, caused by motorists' accidents there, have been expensive for the township

Neighbors who live closest to the choke points say they’ve deterred most traffic, but haven’t stopped all of it. “It’s been more quiet, that’s for sure,” one man who asked not to be named said Friday (Sept. 30, 2011). “Most people have stopped coming by. But you can see where a couple just plowed right through,” he said, pointing to several sets of tire tracks that go up and over the gravel mounds.

The bridge was officially closed two weeks ago, on Sept. 16, when highway department crew members erected large “road closed” signs. Commissioners, Pottsgrove School District administrators, fire chiefs at the Sanatoga, Ringing Hill, and Pottstown fire companies, and even Montgomery County officials reportedly were notified of the situation.

Not affected residents, Woodgate home owner P.J. McGill claims.

“I see no mention on the (township) website about why and for how long Pruss Hill Road will be closed,” McGill, of Rivendell Lane, complained Friday to Manager Rodney Hawthorne in an e-mail that was copied to The Post. “Possibly a notice from the township to those who use Pruss Hill regularly would have been nice,” he wrote.

As of Friday at 4 p.m., there was no alert regarding the closure posted on the website’s home page, where the township’s most urgent notices are usually placed.

Hawthorne and some commissioners were unavailable for much of Friday as they attended the fall conference of the county Association of Township Officials, for which Lower Pottsgrove served as host.

Keeping up with repairs to winding and hilly Pruss Hill Road has been an expensive endeavor for the township in recent months.

  • Commissioners agreed in August (2011) to pay $7,500 for Sanatoga-based Traffic Planning and Design Inc. to determine how to make the bridge and roadway more accident-free;
  • That cost was prompted by the township’s nearly quarterly repairs or replacements of roadside guard rails severely damaged by crashes there; and
  • In June (2011), the township spent a portion of its annual road resurfacing funds to repave a majority of the two-lane highway.

Extensive flooding of Sanatoga Creek during an exceedingly rainy August and September, punctuated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, also seemed to create problems for the bridge and roadway, nearby property owners said.

A few drivers have attempted to go around barriers and over the gravel just to save themselves time. Tire marks on the mounds demonstrate their attempts, local residents claim

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