TROUBLED BRIDGE OVER WATER: 404 PA Bridges Rated ‘Structurally Deficient’ — Same As Minn. Bridge


IN GOD DRPA WE TRUST: Opening of the Walt Whitman Bridge, 1957

BY PAUL NUSSBAUM & DYLAN PURCELL OF THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Throughout the five-county Pennsylvania region, there are 404 bridges that, like the Minnesota bridge, are designated “structurally deficient” and rated at or below 50 percent on a sufficiency scale. The local bridges are among 25,000 state-owned bridges identified Monday, along with their condition ratings, in a list released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. PennDot had refused for months to release bridge-safety ratings of state-owned bridges, but agreed to make them public after the Minnesota collapse.

The low-rated bridges range from little-used, centuries-old rural spans to heavily traveled urban interstate bridges. River Road, the bucolic, winding Bucks County highway along the Delaware River, has more troubled bridges than any road in Southeastern Pennsylvania, according to state data released yesterday. River Road, a favorite of autumn leaf viewers and weekend visitors, has 16 bridges rated as bad as or worse than the Minnesota bridge that collapsed this month.Bucks County has the most low-rated bridges in the region, with 140 that are “structurally deficient” and have sufficiency ratings at 50 or below. Montgomery County has 88 such bridges, Chester County 85, Philadelphia 55, and Delaware County 36.

Inspectors give each bridge a sufficiency rating on a 0-to-100 scale, using a formula that evaluates safety, serviceability, and how essential the bridge is. And they assign a condition rating for each of its three primary components – deck, superstructure and substructure – on a 0-to-9 scale, from “failed” (0) to “excellent” (9).The Minnesota bridge had a sufficiency rating of 50, with a deck score of 5 (“fair”), a superstructure score of 4 (“poor”), and a substructure rating of 6 (“satisfactory”). The low superstructure rating made it a structurally deficient bridge.

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, four bridges have sufficiency ratings of 2, according to PennDot. They include: a bridge on Headquarters Road near Tinicum in upper Bucks County; a bridge on Clover Mill Road over Pickering Creek in Chester County; a bridge on Concord Road over an inactive rail line in Delaware County; and a massive bridge on DeKalb Pike in Montgomery County. [via the INQUIRER]

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NOTE: One out of every four bridges in the United States is rated “structurally deficient” or in need of repair. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers repairing ALL the nation’s bridges would cost roughly $9.4 billion a year for 20 years — or roughly $188 billion. In four years the U.S. government has spent $450 billion funding the war in Iraq.

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