What to do: Keim St Bridge

Friday, May 17, 2019

What to do with the Keim Street Bridge

The local newspaper reported that a public meeting on plans for the Keim Street bridge replacement will be held Wednesday, May 22 at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus at 101 College Drive.

Additional text from the same article explains that plans to restore or replace the bridge have been kicked around for almost ten years. After an inspection in 2010, the bridge was determined to be unsafe for vehicular traffic.  It’s been closed ever since and various proposals to repair or replace the bridge have been promised, but with no results.

According to the Historic Bridges Organization, the bridge was declared “Historic by Survey: Initially No, But Later (2001), Yes (Longest multi-span example of this truss type).” See, https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=pennsylvania/keim/ for more information.

But, in spite of its historic value (and the potential stumbling block of it actually being historic), the bridge would likely cost too much to refurbish in order to restore vehicular traffic. It might just be more trouble and cost more than it’s worth.  Plus, by today’s standards, it’s too narrow.

So, why not forget about fixing it? Why not just replace it with a new bridge that extends S. Keim Street (to the west of the old bridge) across the river, gently curving to an intersection with the existing southern end of N. Keim Street beyond the old bridge in North Coventry.

And if a new bridge is built, what would you do with the old one? The answer: Convert it to a Fishing Bridge Public Park.

Building a new bridge that is directly aligned with S Keim Street would solve the offset connection problem that existed before the old bridge was closed.  Connecting a new bridge to the existing North Coventry terminated ramp of the old bridge and to the Route 422 overpass and its ramps would complete the flow of traffic north and south, to and from Pottstown, Kenilworth and also on to points west of the overpass via 422.

Other abandoned bridges and public transportation rights-of-way have been successfully converted to public use parks, trails, recreation areas, or just vistas. The Keim Street bridge –which could be retro-renamed the Madison Bridge Park to avoid confusion with the name of the new bridge – is a perfect candidate for conversion to a public use fishing and recreation public park.  It could be designated as a part of the nearby Schuylkill River Trail system.  And public interest could be raised by contests for the submission of design proposals and suggested activities.

Building a new bridge would even give the governments of Montgomery and Chester Counties the impetus to abandon the old bridge to (you guessed it), the Borough of Pottstown and North Coventry Township.  That alone should give the two counties enough of an excuse to get a new bridge built without further delay.

© May 2019 – William Collins


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