Montgomery County released an update today on the effort to repair Butler Pike between Germantown Pike and Plymouth/Flourtown Roads in Plymouth Meeting (Whitemarsh Township). A series of sinkholes have kept the road closed since mid-August of 2018 (yes, it has already been closed a year).
The update is that the county has hired a design firm, Garnett Flemming, to develop the plan to repair the roadway. The planning process will take 15 months. No estimate is given on how long the actual repair work will take.
Below is the text of the update:
Montgomery County has hired Gannett Fleming, Inc. to design the permanent repairs needed to reopen Butler Pike and coordinate with the five utilities involved and with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to ensure design and review processes progress as quickly as possible.
With the close cooperation of the utilities, the overall design process will take approximately fifteen months before work on the permanent road reconstruction can begin.
Butler Pike was closed in August 2018 after a large sinkhole developed between Flourtown/Plymouth Roads and Germantown Pike near an active Norfolk Southern railroad bridge that crosses over the road.
Emergency repairs succeeded in stabilizing the washout area and the natural gas, electric, sewer and telecommunication utilities that run underground through the area.
In addition to the Norfolk Southern rail bridge, Texas Eastern Gas Pipeline operates high-pressure natural gas transmission lines, PECO has power lines, Verizon has telecommunications lines and the Whitemarsh Authority has a sanitary sewer line that all cross the roadway at that location.
As soon as emergency repairs were complete, Montgomery County hired a geotechnical engineering firm, GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., to analyze the roadway and determine whether it could be reopened safely.
GZA recommended additional work to stabilize the area before reopening Butler Pike temporarily while design and implementation of permanent repairs was underway.
Those temporary repairs were undertaken and near completion when a new sinkhole appeared nearby on April 12th. There was also other, smaller sinkhole activity in the vicinity.
Given the new sinkhole activity, Montgomery County, in consultation with Whitemarsh and Plymouth townships, and representatives of Norfolk Southern, Texas Eastern Gas Pipeline, PECO, Verizon and the Whitemarsh Authority, determined that reopening the roadway without conducting a full design plan and performing permanent repairs could compromise public safety.
The procedures necessary to maintain the safety of those utilities while excavation and construction are underway are extensive.
We will continue to provide status updates to Whitemarsh and Plymouth townships and residents as we work to re-open the road and make the permanent repairs.