An Allegheny County Port Authority bus involved in the collapse of the Frick Park Bridge on Friday January 28, 2022. (Pittsburgh City Paper photo).
If you’ve ever wondered if the bridge you cross on your morning commute is safe or in need of repair, one western Pennsylvania lawmaker has you covered.
A invoice now before Senate Transportation Committee would authorize the establishment of a statewide database of all bridges maintained at federal, state, county or local government expense.
The sponsor of the measure, Senator Jim Brewster, D-Alleghenypresented its proposal at the end of last year, shortly before the start of the current legislative period.
The Pittsburgh area Democrat introduced a similar bill during last year’s legislature, but it died in committee without ever going to a vote.
In a memo seeking co-sponsors for his proposal, Brewster said the state Ministry of Transport tasked with developing and maintaining the database. It would be searchable by county, township and the PennDOT engineering district.
If approved, the database would also show the proposed timeline for rebuilding, maintaining or repairing each bridge, along with an estimate of costs – where available.
The bill would also require the state auditor to review the records for each bridge in the database every four years and issue a report showing whether the bridges were inspected within the scheduled time. whether the inspection report was submitted and whether the inspection was carried out by a certified bridge inspector, Brewster wrote.
All of this is important because Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, including its bridges, water systems, and roads, received only moderate to mediocre marks on an industry-standard report card.
The report of American Society of Civil Engineersreleased last November, gave Pennsylvania an overall grade of C- for the state of its public infrastructure.
It’s the same grade the Commonwealth received on the trade group’s 2018 report card, LehighValleyLive reports back then.
“Progress is real, but challenges remain. Pennsylvania has one of the oldest infrastructures in the country.” wrote the trade group. “Significant maintenance backlogs have emerged in several areas as recent investments meet new challenges such as inflation and resilience to climate change.”
But if Pennsylvania’s dozens of bridges were a student, they would definitely be held back for summer school. the Condition received a D+ for the condition its bridges.
“Pennsylvania has the ninth largest bridge population in the nation, coupled with an average bridge age that is nearly a decade older than some other states. Despite a 4.5% decrease in the number of bridges in poor condition, Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of bridges in poor condition among states: 25% more than the next state,” the trade group wrote in its testimony.
The good news: The bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the President Joe Biden The signed law provided $13 billion in transportation over five years. And last year PennDOT crews started to address these problem areas.
Now the bad news: earlier this month, the State Senate approved the law to reverse an increase in the state gas tax that had come into effect just a few days earlier. State gas tax is the second highest in the nationbehind California, the online news service, capitol wirereports..
The chairman of the board, Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambriasaid the rollback costs PennDOT approximately $225 million in lost revenue, capitol wire reported.
Alexis Campbella PennDOT speaker, tells capitol wire that the bill would reduce state support for road and bridge repairs and “impair our ability to fully match new federal funds Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.”
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