Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PA Bridge Repairs Ahead of Schedule

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has exceeded its goal for repairing bridges over the past three years, but funding uncertainty could slow down the agency in the years to come.

PennDOT has repaired more than 1500 bridges since the start of the Accelerated Bridge Program in 2008, exceeding its expectations by about 450.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says in 2010, the agency awarded 611 bridge contracts totaling $900 million. He says that reduced the total number of needy bridges from the 2008 high of 6,034 to almost 5,400 now.

But Kirkpatrick says despite reversing the growth of ‘structurally deficient’ bridges in the state, PennDOT still has plenty of work to do. And he says that won’t be easy, given the murky outlook for PennDOT funding.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds provided an extra boost of over a billion dollars for the state highway and bridge network, and that money is running out,” says Kirkpatrick.

The state’s Transportation Advisory Committee says the state is underfunding its transportation system by about $3.5 billion each year.

The PennDOT spokesman says the vast majority of ‘structurally deficient’ bridges are not unsafe, but he says PennDOT studies each bridge to determine which ones need repairs most urgently.

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