Thursday, December 08, 2022


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News Article
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Updated Pennsburg Bridge Removal Could Lead to Eight Months of Detours
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            A scaled-back plan to eliminate the bridge on Route 29 in Pennsburg could lead to seven to eight months of traffic detours. The news appeared to leave council President Diane Stevens speechless.

            "I have no words," she said during a virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the project.

            Work to remove a deteriorating bridge near the intersection of 10th Street in the borough could commence in December or January 2023, according to Nathan Parrish, a project manager with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. He said during the meeting that the work would lead to the closure of Main Street between 10th and 11th streets.

            Stevens, appearing somewhat incredulous over the new timeline, asked why the project would take so long considering its reduced scope. She asked the PennDOT representatives to include funds for overtime pay during the construction to expedite the process. The council president expressed support for an idea proposed by Vice President Patrick Suter to encourage work on Sundays.

            "This is all news to me," said Stevens, who asked the agency representatives to do whatever is necessary to shorten the road closure. "I can't emphasize this enough."

            According to Parrish, PennDOT officials are nearing completion on new specifications to remove the bridge and replace it with a road. They scrapped an initial proposal to replace the structure after Montgomery County officials removed a recommendation to implement a gateway for the potential expansion of the Perkiomen Trail through the borough.

            Checking her notes from previous meetings, Stevens said she had been previously informed that the work to rebuild the road without the bridge would take four months. She asked Parrish how that timeline doubled.

            Most of the additional time was tied to additional roadway grading and utility work, according to Darnell Merritt, a PennDOT project manager. Parrish said the agency did not have a construction schedule.  "But now we do," he said.

            According to Parrish, the project is expected to have a contractor on Aug. 11. He said on-site work could commence in October or November, and road closure and implementation of a detour could commence in late December or early January.

            The project manager identified the technical start date as Dec. 22. Parrish said the work is expected to conclude in July or August of next year.

            PennDOT will implement a detour on Routes 29, 73 and 663, according to Parrish. He described it as unusually long since only state-owned roads can be utilized.

            Representatives from surrounding communities and the Upper Perkiomen School District discussed the challenges the road closure could create.

            Pennsburg Mayor Charlie Shagg expressed reservations about the eight-month timeline. He said it will significantly impact bus traffic for most of the upcoming school year.  "If they could finish this project in less time, we would certainly appreciate it," Shagg said.

             Melanie Cunningham, a UPSD board member, said district officials will need to come up with alternative routes transporting students from Red Hill to the middle school in Upper Hanover and the 4th & 5th Grade Center in East Greenville.  She predicted that Montgomery Avenue won't be able to handle any additional traffic.

            Pennsburg's Emergency Service Board will exclusively discuss the issue during its June meeting, according to Stevens.






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