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PA bridges repair on hold; Worst in the nation

This bridge over Calkins Creek in Milanville, PA is one of 4,479 bridges in the state that have been identified as structurally deficient.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
August 28, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Barry J. Schoch, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), announced on August 23 that the department will implement or expand weight restrictions to about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges statewide to ensure bridge safety and preserve the aging bridge system.

A press release from the department said, “PennDOT must take this step because of legislative inaction this past June on transportation funding, leaving the department’s future resources in question. Reducing the weight traveling on these bridges will slow down their deterioration and preserve safety while funding for their repairs remains uncertain.”

There are some 4,479 “structurally deficient bridges” in Pennsylvania, making the Keystone State number one in the nation for the number of bridges needing repair.

In Wayne County there are a total of 253 bridges, and 69 are structurally deficient; in Pike, there are 160, and 44 need work. At the moment, however, there is no funding available through either the state or federal governments to pay for repairs.

Not that some politicians haven’t been trying. At the state level, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a transportation bill before the general assembly departed for its summer break. Senate Bill One would have provided $2.5 billion in transportation funding.

The bill would have raised the funds by gradually doing away with the cap on the tax paid by gasoline wholesalers. Currently, they can only be taxed on a price of $1.25 per gallon. If the cap were removed, the tax would increase from about 19 cents to about 48 cents per gallon.

The PA House of Representatives, however, failed to come to an agreement about the bill. Representative Mike Hanna blamed House Republicans for failing to negotiate with their Democratic counterparts. He said, “In the end no package as important as this transportation package can be passed without both sides of the aisle, and it’s something that has to be done.”

Several state lawmakers of both parties have said that a transportation bill will be a priority when they return to Harrisburg on September 23. But some analysts are skeptical of a bill being passed, because it is unofficially linked to the privatization of the state liquor store system, and that is being aggressively opposed by the union that represents employees of the state store system and Democrats.

Bridges that will be impacted by the PennDot move
Pike County
Rt. 390 Outlet Fairview Lake
Rt. 402 Shohola Creek
Rt. 2006 Dwarfkill Creek
Rt. 4003 Masthope Creek
Twp RT390 Mozette Creek
Wayne County
Rt. 191 Big Brook Creek
Rt. 191 Little Equinunk Creek
Rt. 296 Van Aucken Creek
Rt. 371 N. Branch Calkins Creek
Rt. 371 Beaver Dam Creek
Rt. 1002 Delaware River
Rt. 1004 Calkins Creek
Rt. 1023 S. Branch Equinunk Creek
Rt. 2007 Holbert Creek
Rt. 4014 Balls Creek
Rt. 4033 Starlight Rd. & Shehawken Creek
Davis Road Van Auken Creek
Plank Road Trib. to Delaware River
Davis Road South Branch Calkins Cr.
Boyce Road Hollister Creek
Hopkins Rd. N. Branch Calkins Creek
Hopkins Sunny Brook
River Road Hollister Creek
Twp Rte T-550 Big Brook
Hatchery Rd. W. Branch Lackawaxen River
Twp Rte T-684 Equinunk Creek
Twp Rte T-381 Cal-Shaffer Middle Creek Branch
Hemlock Rd. Middle Creek Branch
Willow Ave. Holbert Creek