Engineers Explore Keim Bridge Alternatives

SANATOGA PA – Building a bridge takes time. Determining the best place to build a bridge may take just as much time, Lower Pottsgrove’s designated engineer indicated last week (March 2, 2015) in answering a Board of Commissioners’ question about progress on proposed reconstruction of the Keim Street bridge.

Engineers Seek Alternatives For Keim Street Bridge

The now-closed Keim Street bridge across the Schuylkill River may not be replaced for several more years

“Things are moving along, slowly but surely,” Scott Exley – president of the township engineering firm, Bursich Associates, and vice chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Commission – offered in response when asked by board Vice President Stephen Klotz for an update.

The bridge is a formerly important thoroughfare, for Lower Pottsgrove and North Coventry townships and the borough of Pottstown, that once moved Keim Street traffic in both directions across the Schuylkill River between Industrial Highway and PA Route 724. It was closed during 2010 due to structural problems.

The Sanatoga-based engineering firm Traffic Planning and Design Inc. has been assigned by the county to determine the best location for a replacement. “It’s looking at alternative alignments now,” Exley said of TPD, a recognition that constructing a new bridge at the current site may no longer be as beneficial as when it first opened.

Township commissioners on several occasions have said they consider the bridge vital for both improved transportation and a thriving local economy.

The county has included its replacement on a list of longer-term infrastructure projects due for completion. Design work is not expected to begin until sometime in 2016 at the earliest, which means a new bridge might not be ready until around 2020. Its replacement cost was last estimated at $21.5 million.

Borough Council members last Wednesday (March 4, 2015) reportedly discussed a county inquiry into whether Pottstown wanted to take ownership of the closed bridge for pedestrian use. The tenor of council comments suggested that was unlikely, although no formal vote occurred.