Commission Says 16 Philly-Area Bridges Are in Need of Repair

Large cracks, deteriorating concrete and rusted pillars. That’s what NBC10 saw when Barry Seymour, the head of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission showed us 16 bridges in Pennsylvania that he says are in desperate need of repair. It’s a situation Seymour believes needs to change immediately.

The DVRPC says the following bridges are in need of repair:

Bucks County
Clymer Avenue Bridge over Mill Creek
Cooks Creek Bridge
Strock’s Grove Road Bridge Over Beaver Creek

Chester County
Sunnyside Road Bridge Over East Penn Railway
Creek Road Bridge Over Pickering Creek
Spring City Road Over Stony Run

Delaware County
Michigan Avenue Over Little Crum Creek
Hilldale Bridge
Mulford Bridge

Montgomery County
Butler Pike Over Prophecy Creek
Maple Avenue Bridge
Allendale Road Bridge
Store Road Bridge

59th Street Over Amtrak
Woodland Avenue Over SEPTA
Tabor Road Over Tacony Creek

"If something falls from one of these bridges then one of us can get hurt," said Domnique Smith, a local driver. "If a car accident happens, a lot of people can get hurt. So it's more than one person's safety at risk." 

The DVRPC says they will need $40 million to fully repair all the bridges, which breaks down to about two to three million dollars in patchwork for each bridge. They are now asking for $10 million to start working.

“I think a key point Is that even that $10 million is not fully going to fund the cost of those bridges, which has been estimated at about $40 million,” Seymour said. “So this is a down payment to get those started.”

As for how the commission will get the money, Seymour says he supports a gas tax, which is up for debate in Harrisburg. While the tax would be on companies, some of the cost could pass down to consumers.

“A ten cents per gallon increase costs the average driver one dollar per week,” Seymour said. “Now it’s been estimated that congestion in traffic costs about $25 to $30 a week.”

On Thursday, the DVRPC will vote on a spending plan for bridge repair.

Officials say the bridges are inspected regularly. The state also recently changed weight restrictions on some of the aging bridges to prevent them from deteriorating so quickly.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press released a report stating Pennsylvania is among the nation’s leaders in bridges that both lack backup protection against collapse in case a single, vital component fails and are designated by highway officials as being in need of repair.

The Associated Press analyzed data involving 607,380 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory, which are subject to National Bridge Inspection Standards. On a national basis, there are 65,605 structurally deficient bridges and 20,808 fracture critical bridges, according to the most recently available federal government data.

A bridge is deemed "fracture critical'' when it does not have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. A bridge is "structurally deficient'' when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component of the span has advanced deterioration or other problems that lead inspectors to deem its condition "poor'' or worse.

Some 7,795 bridges nationwide fall into both categories _ a combination of red flags that experts say is particularly problematic. The most recent federal data shows Pennsylvania among the top five states with bridges classified as both fracture critical and structurally deficient.

In Pennsylvania, the number of structurally deficient bridges is a little over 4,000, down from some 6,000 several years ago. It has about 1,350 fracture critical bridges, such as the Walt Whitman, PennDOT said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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