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New Study Questions Safety Of Local Bridges

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

John Shumway John Shumway
John Shumway joined NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in 2004 as co-host of The KDKA...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new national study is out and Pittsburgh is number one, only this time, it’s a dubious distinction.

Transportation for America says Pittsburgh has the highest percentage of structurally-deficient bridges in the country for cities of our size.

The Liberty Bridge is technically considered structurally deficient, but that does not mean it’s not safe.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean the bridge is ready to fall down, it just means it’s not up to the current standards,” said Harry Smeltzer, a PennDOT bridge engineer.

Anywhere you look around Pittsburgh, you will see a bridge. Since we can’t all get to where we want to go by boat, our bridges are a bit necessary, but they’re aging and decaying.

“We know which bridges are in a little bit worse condition and we come out pretty regularly to keep an eye on them, make sure it’s not getting any worse,” Smeltzer said.

For the last couple of months, crews have been waiting for the money to make repairs, like they have been doing on Route 65 near Woods Run the last couple of months.

However, if the aging process beats out the budget process, the bridge will be closed.

“We’ve had a few over the years,” he said.

There’s no question that structurally deficient sounds bad.

Smeltzer says it could just mean the bridge is now carrying more traffic than it was originally designed for, or the width of the bridge is not up to current standards and when the wheel of money comes around repairs will be made.

In the Pittsburgh region, there are 4,458 bridges on or over state highways, and of those 1,158 are structurally deficient.

PennDOT is well aware of it and this latest report is salt in the open wound of needed repairs.

“If we had the money we would do that, that’s the unfortunate situation we are in,” said Smeltzer.

The fact is, drive any of the Parkways and you’ll cross a deficient bridge, or I-79 or virtually any state road.

A bill was introduced in the State Senate today to try and do something about finding the money to fix the problems.

RELATED LINKS:
Transportation for America
Study: “New Report Ranks Deficient Bridges by Metro Areas”
Latest Traffic Conditions