The overall numbers are daunting and have been for years: Pennsylvania has the second highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country (4,173) and the fifth highest percent of bridges in that category (18.3 percent). In some cases bridge closures in the state affect public safety as is the case in Greenville PA, where bridge closures and blockages could mean death for residents when a bridge decides the town and is the main route for Fire and EMS.
But the state Department of Transportation is making progress — it upgraded 333 bridges last year, 44 more than any other state — and this month Gov. Wolf announced new programs to address even more bad roads and bridges according to the Post Gazette of Pittsburgh
Todays infrastructure announcement by the Trump Administration is expected to help in the future if passed, added money is in need.
Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania has asked Washington DC for help in the way of added funding and recently raised Pennsylvania gas tax to the highest in the nation to raise funds.
Statistics compiled by the Federal Highway Administration and analyzed by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association show Pennsylvania is behind only Iowa in the number of structurally deficient bridges. Those statistics say they are for 2017, but PennDOT says they often lag a year behind.
what PennDot won’t tell you, closing a bridge takes it off the list or doing minimal upgrades also removes it, and last, lowering weight limits to a safe level brings a deficient structure into compliance.
George McAuley, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for highway administration, said in that same Pittsburgh Pist Gazette interview the numbers don’t really reflect the state’s effort to repair deficient bridges. According to the agency’s numbers through 2017, the state’s number of deficient bridges has been nearly cut in half since 2008, from 6,034 to 3,114 as of Jan. 1.
Those improvements occurred despite another 200 to 250 bridges deteriorating enough to move into the deficient category each year, McAuley said. The numbers also look bad because the state has 22,779 bridges, the ninth highest amount in the country, he added.
Plenary Walsh is expected to finish a 3½-year program by the end of the year that calls for replacing 558 small, similar bridges and maintaining them for 25 years at a cost of $942 million.