PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh is called the “City of Bridges,” so what better place to host the International Bridge Conference?
The five-day event attracts people from around the globe and this year, Pennsylvania’s bridges are a big topic of discussion.
It’s the 30th anniversary for the event, which attracts more than 1,600 people from 46 states and 20 countries. Among those in attendance are bridge designers, engineers, government leaders, construction executives and more.
There are all sorts of workshops and exhibits and featured speakers.
One of the keynote speakers this year is Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch.
“Here in Pennsylvania, we have an aging system like most of the northeast and I think all of us in the northeast are blessed and cursed with the same sort of a problem,” Schoch said.
Schoch talked a lot about the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“The average age of our bridges is 51 years old and for every new one, there are two that are 75 years old,” Schoch said.
He also addressed the major funding challenges facing the state. He said if lawmakers don’t start investing in the state’s bridges, there will be a big impact.
“The implications of doing nothing are that we can’t keep up with the bridge problem, so what I showed today for the first time was a map of 1,400 weight-restricted bridges that will occur over the next couple of years if we don’t see additional revenue,” Schoch said.
That means some bridges will be off-limits to heavy vehicles like trucks and even school buses.
“The average detour for right now for our bridges that are posted or closed is 8 miles one way, so that’s 16 miles roundtrip. The average truck, school bus might get six miles to the gallon, you’re talking about three gallons of additional fuel every time,” Schoch said.
Whether the state receives increased transportation funding is now in the hands of the Legislature.