Fruitville Road span not scheduled for construction until 2017
The Fruitville Road bridge in Upper Hanover, a metal and stone span, will be closed later this week due to structural issues, Montgomery County officials said. It was built in 1905.
According to Upper Hanover Township Manager Stan Seitzinger, the bridge, which can’t carry more than 3 tons, is owned by the county. The structure has been functionally deficient for years but officials held up planning its replacement to research the bridge’s historical value.
Seitzinger said after about a decade’s worth of discussion, the bridge is now scheduled for replacement. It will close Friday and construction will begin sometime in 2017. According to Don Colosimo, Montgomery County director of roads and bridges, the project will take a full year to complete and will cost $8-10 million.
The bridge was last repaired in 2006 when Upper Hanover spent $60,000 to fix portions of the stone. It was also closed back in 2004 for repairs. According to a maintenance agreement, Upper Hanover shared maintenance expenses with the county.
Colosimo said it’s likely the new bridge will solely be the county’s responsibility.
He explained federal funding will account for 80 percent of the costs, with the state picking up 15 and the county picking up 5 percent, respectively. While it is a good arrangement financially, the county will now have to adhere to federal and state requirements for historical, environmental and archeological aspects of the structure, among others.
The approximately 700-foot bridge will be replaced with an open concrete bridge with a faux stone look.
“We’ll make it as aesthetically pleasing as we can and work closely with the township on that,” Colosimo said of the replacement structure.
Fruitville Road gets a “fair amount” of traffic, officials said, and vehicles will be detoured around Kutztown and Church roads as it was in 2006. Drivers mainly use the road as a shortcut, Seitzinger said, although there is one large development off the roadway.
The new bridge, once complete, will be able to carry vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks and school buses which haven’t been able to traverse Fruitville Road for at least 35 years, Colosimo said.