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Hundreds of bridges classified deficient in central PA

By Melanie Gillespie

It's more than likely you drive over at least one bridge, if not more, a day.  Pennsylvania has many of them when it comes to its terrain and waterways.

6 News got the list of bridges classified as structurally deficient in a 10 county area and found 462 of the 2,850 state bridges are in need of repair.

"I think that structurally deficient classification is somewhat of a wakeup call, PennDot Bridge Engineer Ralph DeStafano said.  

"When you wait too long, to address a problem it gets to be too massive, Pennsylvania Auditor Gneral Eugene DePasquale said.  We should've been addressing this years ago."

But how safe is a structurally deficient bridge?

DeStafano said bridge components are rated on a scale from 0 to 9.  He said a 0 means the bridge is closed and 9 is like a new bridge.

Whenever it reaches a 4, that's categorized as poor condition and that triggers a structurally deficient classification to it, DeStafano said.  But it's not necessarily unsafe; it's an indicator some attention needs to be made to that bridge.

Some of the areas with the most deficient bridges in central Pennsylvania include Somerset County with 85; Bedford County has 65 and Centre County has 57.  

PennDot considers Cambria County one of its success stories.  Since 2006, the number deficient bridges dropped from 77 to 29 now.

Weatherization and salt application are key contributors to the wear and tear on top of bridges, but it's also what's happening underneath that can cause it to be structurally deficient.

"Our goal is that every dollar we spend is the best investment we can do for the people of Pennsylvania and this district that we're responsible for," DePasquale said.
The $2.3-billion transportation bill Governor Tom Corbett signed will help keep these bridges from bearing concrete barriers and closed signs.

It's funded by a tax on fuel.

For a driver who puts 12,000 miles a year on his or her car, it'll cost about $2.50 a week extra to fill up.

Click here for the complete list of deficient bridges.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times