PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The three rivers that flow through our valleys and define our identity also mean we have more bridges than most areas of the country.
A new report list Pennsylvania second in the number of structurally-deficient bridges in the country.
While no one is denying we’ve got our share of crumbling spans, the fact is, over the past 10 years the number of structurally-deficient bridges in Pennsylvania has dropped from a high of 6,035 to 3,512 today.
In PennDOT’s District 11, which covers Allegheny County, Beaver County, and part of Lawrence County, “A decade ago we had 600 structurally-deficient bridges, today that’s down to 272,” says District 11 Executive Dan Cessna.
Major deficient spans like the Hulton Bridge, Greenfield Bridge and Birmingham Bridge have all been upgraded or replaced. Meanwhile, scores of smaller bridges have also been replaced on state roads, bridges over creeks, and streams so small you might not even realize you’re on a bridge at all.
And there is the ongoing work on the Liberty Bridge, which Cessna says, “When that construction is completed, it will no longer be structurally deficient.”
But while many bridges are upgraded, others are ticking towards structural deficiency.
Three critical spans PennDOT is keeping an eye on are the Tarentum Bridge, New Kensington Bridge and the McKees Rocks Bridge.
Cessna points out those bridges will need between $10 million and $50 million worth of work each.
“If those investments are not made in the next five years, we would fully expect them to become structurally deficient,” he said.
If that happens, trucks might be restricted from those bridges and weight restrictions are needed.
“It would have major impact on transportation around the region,” says Cessna.
So, while Cessna adds, “The risk has been dramatically reduced because we have been able to address some of the most significant structurally-deficient bridges;” the work will need a lot of money, and PennDOT is hopeful the Trump administration’s pledge of major infrastructure funding will meet the need.