PENNDOT Shamed Into Releasing Bridge Safety Scores


HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s transportation secretary suddenly promised today to release bridge safety scores on all of the state’s 25,000 bridges — some of which his agency had refused to make public for months.

Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler said there had been debate within his department over whether releasing such scores would create undue public alarm. PennDot had denied two requests by the Beaver County Times to review rankings of bridges deemed structurally deficient.

But today, Biehler said that in reconsidering the matter, “we will err on the side of providing the information.” He did not set a date for the release, but later told reporters it would be made available over the next few weeks.

He told lawmakers that each bridge would receive three separate scores ranging from 9 to 0 — with 9 being the best and 0 the worst. One score would rate the condition of the bridge’s deck; the second would rate the bridge’s substructure, such as its column piers; and the third would examine what is called the bridge’s “super-structure.”

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