Workers Assemble Support Forms For High St. Bridge

Manatawny Creek, in the foreground, flows gently Sunday past its east bank at High Street, where forms to create the first support for a new bridge are being assembled

Sections of old bridge deck pile up on an adjacent lot

POTTSTOWN PA – Some time next year – May 2012 is the estimate – traffic could get back to normal on High Street in Pottstown, at its intersection with Manatawny Street. That’s 12 months away, though; until then vehicles are being detoured, High has been barricaded at the corner, its old bridge decking across Manatawny Creek is gone, and forms to create concrete supports for a new bridge are being built this week.

The bridge was deemed structurally deficient by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and was closed March 7 (2011) so PennDOT’s contractor, J.D. Eckman Inc. of Atglen PA, could install a $2.9 million replacement. It’s taken about 10 weeks to set up the work site, remove portions of the bridge piece by piece, and prepare the area on the creek’s east side – close to North Hall of Montgomery County Community College – to accept new support columns.

The first of several forms for those supports is being assembled this week, and green-coated steel reinforcing bars are being boxed inside. The creek, meanwhile, flows gently past the workers, its water bound for a merger with the Schuylkill River about a half-mile south.

PennDOT said the former bridge was built in 1908, and carried more than 6,000 vehicles per day. The new bridge will be significantly wider (at 63 feet), somewhat longer (at 157 feet), and include two travel lanes, a turn lane, two shoulders, a bicycle lane, and sidewalks on both sides.

A car, in the background, crosses Manatawny Creek using the West King Street bridge