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Visible Flaws Aside, Sanatoga Bridge Called Safe

Cracked asphalt pavement, loose stone blocks, and crumbling cement wall caps on the East High Street bridge near Sunnybrook Ballroom have worried some drivers who cross it regularly

20151127-SanatogaPA-HighStBridgeDeterioration (2Edit2)SANATOGA PA – Engineers with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are keeping their eyes on the physical condition of the bridge that carries East High Street traffic over Sprogel’s Run between Lower Pottsgrove and Pottstown. They last examined the structure just eight months ago, according to a PennDOT spokesman, and continue to consider it safe.

That may be of small comfort to motorists who travel across the bridge regularly. In separate and seemingly unrelated messages to The Post, they recently expressed concern that it’s in worsening shape.

“There is growing crack in the pavement where the side wall of the bridge seems to be pulling away,” one driver wrote in an e-mail. “I have been watching it for the last three months and the crack is definitely getting wider and deeper.”

Gene Blaum, assistant press secretary in PennDOT’s King of Prussia office, acknowledged the visibly deteriorating Sanatoga bridge has been deemed structurally deficient, like dozens of other decades-old spans across the state. The bridge, however, “is not posted with a weight restriction and is safe for travel,” he reported.

As a precaution, PennDOT has stepped up its inspection schedule for the bridge; engineers now look at it “on an abbreviated basis to ensure safety,” Blaum added.

20151127-SanatogaPA-HighStBridgeDeterioration (3Edit)

Blocks appear to be working themselves apart in the wall on the bridge’s south side

The structure is described as a stone masonry arch bridge, built in 1910. Located between Sunnybrook and Porter roads, the bridge is 60 feet long and 46 feet wide. It was a subject of brief discussion during a November meeting of the township Board of Commissioners, which heard about congestion problems created by traffic exiting from Porter Road.

A structurally deficient rating doesn’t mean a bridge is unsafe, Blaum said, but it does recognize “deterioration is present” in one or more of its major components. If future inspections determine the bridge’s capacity is being adversely affected by deficiencies, then it might face weight restrictions, he said.

Such weight restrictions were on placed on six other state-owned bridges in Montgomery County during August 2013.

Unlike another East High Street bridge – the one over Sanatoga Creek between Allison Drive and North Sanatoga Road where rebuilding was completed in August 2010 – the one over Sprogel’s Run “is not currently scheduled for rehabilitation or replacement,” according to Blaum. “However, the Department is examining possible future improvements to the structure.”

Actually, calling the span an “East High Street bridge” mislabels it, Blaum said. The structure is known to PennDOT as “the Ridge Pike bridge over Sprogels Run in Lower Pottsgrove Township,” he explained, because “outside the borough the street name changes from East High Street to Ridge Pike.”

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