Local residents are concerned about the safety of a Pennsylvania bridge over the busiest passenger railway in the country that appears to be supported by wood planks.
Thousands of AMTRAK and SEPTA passengers go under the Market Street Bridge on State Road 452 in Marcus Hook. It’s one of more than 450 structurally-deficient bridges in the Philadelphia area. Under the bridge sits exposed steel, crumbling concrete and stacks of wood pinched between its edges.
“I noticed the decaying structure with the boards stacked underneath and thought it was pretty crazy,” said Eric Schaeffer.
Schaeffer snapped a picture under the bridge and noticed the wood in the corner of the frame.
“You got steel and cement holding up cars and trucks that drive across here every day and you put boards under it,” he said.
The NBC10 Investigators reached out to PennDOT to find out just how safe the bridge actually is.
“The bridge is safe,” said Charles Davies, PennDOT’s chief engineer for the Philadelphia region. “It needs a lot of repair and it needs replacement.”
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Davies told NBC10 the wood planks are not load-bearing and they’re not actually holding up the bridge.
“They’re wedged in so they could be load-bearing just in case we have a failure,” he said.
PennDOT classifies the Market Street Bridge as a “Priority 1 Repair,” meaning it should be repaired within six months. The most recent inspection in August, 2014 concluded the bridge’s structural condition is “poor” while its deck is “serious.” The report also lists 12 maintenance recommendations.
“It confirms the necessity of replacing this bridge as soon as possible,” Davies said.
A spokesperson for AMTRAK told NBC10 they were “aware of the condition of the Market Street Bridge” and that they make “periodic visual inspections to ensure the safety of trains passing underneath.”
Schaeffer hopes repairs to the bridge are made quickly.
“It doesn’t look like it has long for this world to me,” he said.
PennDOT officials say they inspect the bridge once a year and inspect the wood planks every three months. They also say they plan to replace the bridge this year though they don’t have a specific start date.