Sen. Casey urging congress to help fix Pa bridges

Pennsylvania is number one in the country, but in this case, not in a good way. The state has more than 5,000 structurally deficient bridges; more than any other state.

To see how Pennsylvania’s bridges rank among other states click here

People drive over these structurally deficient bridges, just in Pennsylvania, 17 million times on a typical day. “We cannot move commerce, we cannot grow the economy, without bridges that are structurally sound and structurally safe,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D) Pennsylvania.

Casey is pushing for additional funds for bridge repair in the upcoming Transportation Bill. “Fixing structurally deficient bridges in Harrisburg and throughout South Central Pennsylvania will increase safety and provide a boost to the economy,” Senator Casey said. “Congress has an opportunity in the upcoming transportation bill to make a significant commitment to bridge repair. This is an issue that Democrats and Republicans should come together on because it’s a commonsense step to improve infrastructure and create jobs.”

“On a report card scale it’s kind of like a D, it’s kind of like an alarm, we have to start really start doing something to these bridges, to repair them, and get them functionally up to speed,” said Harrisburg City Engineer Paul Francis, on the meaning of structurally deficient.

On Monday, Senator Casey, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, and Engineer Paul Francis visited the 13th Street bridge, which is considered a structurally deficient bridge in Harrisburg. The bridge is deteriorating and there are no immediate plans to repair it.

The group advocated for Congress to give more money and focus on aging bridges, especially in areas like Harrisburg, that may not get state funding.

“We are focused on ‘off system bridges’ that are the bridges people travel over everyday, but are the ones that are maintained by counties and local communities,” said Senator Casey.

“Those bridges for the most part, in many cases, are over 100 years old, and are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” said Papenfuse.

Casey highlighted a recent letter calling on Congress to dedicate more funds to bridge repair when it debates a long-term transportation bill in the coming weeks. During 2012 an effort by Senator Casey resulted in $74m for ‘off-system’ bridges owned by counties and municipalities in FY 2013. 

Below is the full text of letter:

May 2, 2014
 
The Honorable Barbara Boxer                                    The Honorable David Vitter
Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Environment                            Senate Committee on Environment
and Public Works                                                        and Public Works 
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building                          456 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510
 
Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter:
 
As you prepare the next surface transportation re-authorization bill, I want to take this opportunity to urge you to provide resources to fix our Nation’s bridges.  I applaud your commitment to investing in our Nation’s infrastructure and to creating and sustaining jobs. We need to build on the progress we made under MAP-21 and continue to invest in our Nation’s transportation system.
 
The Federal Highway Administration recently released data that highlights the challenges Pennsylvania faces in repairing its bridges. Specifically, the data indicates Pennsylvania ranks first in the country in the number of structurally deficient bridges, with a total of 5,218. The data also shows that nearly a quarter of all bridges in Pennsylvania are classified as structurally deficient. Every day, nearly 17 million Pennsylvanians make trips over bridges with structural issues. I urge you to consider these issues as you work on the next transportation re-authorization bill.  Passing a strong transportation re-authorization bill with resources for bridges is vital to the Commonwealth’s economy and to my constituent’s safety.
 
I look forward to working with you on a long-term re-authorization bill. 
 
Sincerely,
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

 

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