History Holding Up Replacement of West Valley Green Road Bridge

Montgomery County recently issued an update on the status of the closure of the West Valley Green Road Bridge, which has been closed most recently since March of this year. The bridge is apparently “deemed historic” and that has it caught in a review process and federal red tape.

Here is the statement from the county:

The West Valley Green Road Bridge over the Wissahickon Creek is closed due to significant structural deterioration.

The steel truss bridge was built in 1884 and it has been closed and reopened a number of times in recent years. It was most recently closed on March 14, 2018.

The County has attempted to reopen the bridge to restrict overweight vehicles from crossing it, but those attempts failed when numerous large vehicles ignored the warnings and collided with structures built at the approaches to the bridge.

The bridge was recently re-inspected and found to have developed additional failures which would now prevent the bridge from being reopened to any traffic, regardless of weight.

The County is still investigating if and how the bridge can be reopened on a temporary basis between now and the time of construction.

In the meantime, our work to replace the bridge does continue. However, the Federal process to replace or rebuild a bridge deemed historic continues to take a significant amount of time. The bridge is currently under review by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

It is hoped that preliminary engineering can be completed by March, 2020, at which time final engineering and design for a replacement bridge would begin prior to construction.

The federal government is funding 80 percent of the cost for the bridge replacement, the state is providing 15 percent of the funds and Montgomery County is providing 5 percent.

We did some digging. The federal holdup is only due to accepting federal funding. The agency involved is supposed to seek public comment on the historic structure that needs to be repaired or replaced. We do not know if that has happened yet, however, below is how you can contact the agency involved and tell them to take their time with the review or that you don’t care about the historic nature of the bridge and just want it fixed.

Contact info:

NEH FPO by email: FPO@neh.gov, by phone: (202) 606-8309, or by mail: Federal Preservation Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 400 7th Street SW, Washington DC 20506.

UPDATE – Apparently this contact info is incorrect. We got an email this morning from NEH asking us to stop telling people to email and call them. Please note we took the information from the above linked page from the NEH website. So we aren’t sure right now where to direct you. We will try to find another contact.

UPDATE 2 – Use this link if you want to contact the appropriate agency – https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federal-aidessentials/contactus.cfm

Photo: Tom Gerstlauer