Route 23 to reopen in West Conshohocken and Upper Merion

Posted: August 02, 2012

There will be no ribbon-cutting ceremony, not even a speech, Wednesday afternoon when the state Department of Transportation plans to reopen Route 23 in West Conshohocken and Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County.

Sometime before 5, crews will simply take down the barriers, letting the 15,500 daily drivers who have coped with yearlong detours stream through.

"We don't want to keep it closed one minute more than we have to," said PennDot spokesman Eugene J. Blaum.

The reopening is not being ballyhooed because the botheration is not over. The $5.4 million rebuilding of the juncture of Route 23 and Balligomingo Road is still 10 months from completion.

While cars will soon whiz along Route 23, Balligomingo, closed three weeks ago, is expected to be blocked to all but locals until May.

The project was needed to correct sight problems at the intersection, where for years drivers had a difficult merge onto Route 23.

The new layout moves Balligomingo 400 feet to the west so that it hits Route 23 at a T-shaped corner. There will be a traffic light rather than a stop sign, and dedicated turn lanes.

Last year, Route 23 was detoured at Balligomingo as workers relocated utilities and rebuilt a bridge over a creek. A drainage system was added.

In a second phase, the two-lane highway was closed between Matsonford and Swedeland Roads so curbs could be added and the roadbed raised and resurfaced. On Tuesday, workers were installing the last 600 feet of guide rail.

In the final phase, due to end in May, Balligomingo's position is to be shifted on a hillside overlooking the Schuylkill.

"We'll be moving rock and shaping up the slopes," said Sal Ali, a PennDot assistant construction engineer.

Locals have been allowed car access up to the construction zone, but outsiders have been detoured from West Conshohocken west on I-76 to the Gulph Mills exit, then east on Trinity, Holstein, and Swedeland Roads to rejoin Route 23.

Since early July, with both Route 23 and Balligomingo closed, drivers have sat in traffic jams of up to a half-hour on Trinity and Holstein near the I-76 exit. PennDot knew motorists were annoyed.

"With Balligomingo Road closed right now, that put even more importance on getting Route 23 open," Blaum said. "For this three-week period, it just exacerbated a very difficult situation."


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her "MontCo Memo" blog on philly.com.

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