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Deficient roads and bridges in PA

Drivers in the York-Harrisburg-Lancaster area spend an extra $1,646 a year in vehicle operating expenses because of deficient roads and bridges, according to TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.

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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. 
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator


Now that lawmakers have passed a transportation plan we will soon see major improvements to Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges.

You could call it a welcome sight, roads and bridges throughout Pennsylvania getting some much-needed improvements.

“In many cases we were doing just basic maintenance. We’ll now get to see some of those projects moving forward. We’ll actually see some advancement on those jobs,” said Mike Crochunis, Press Officer for PA Department of Transportation.

For York County alone, PennDot has a list of 38 projects. A top priority, and something we will see first in the coming years, is work on worn down roads and bridges. “We’re behind the construction work that we need to do. We have been talking about this for years now. So finally something has come to be. Many of them are simple resurfacing jobs that you might see right away, you might see them within the first year or two. Something as large as the widening of I-83 to six lanes for about four miles could be in the outlying years,” said Crochunis.

One of the larger projects on the horizon for York County is the planned widening of Interstate 83 to relieve congestion, from just north of the Mount Rose Exit to the North George Street Exit. “Between Exit 18 and Exit 22. It’s about a four-mile stretch that would be widened to six lanes,” said Crochunis.

Recently the project was out of reach because of it’s $200 million price tag. “Widening 83 that was totally off the table because it was such a large ticket item,” said Crochunis. “These jobs would have been more theoretical, not moving towards construction. But with funding, something that’s dedicated, we can see this work within the next five to ten years.”

38 projects in York County highlighted on the ‘Decade Of Investment’ webpage:

  • I-83 widen to six lanes including thirteen bridges on I-83 from north of Exit 18 to Exit 22 for PA 181 in Spring Garden, Springettsbury, Manchester Townships and North York Borough, $200,000,000.
  • US 15 (Blue-Gray Highway) widen from PA 74 to Ore Bank Road and improve traffic signal system at US 15 intersection with Range End Road/Golf Course Road in Carrol Township, Franklin Township, and Dillsburg Borough, $75,000,000.
  • Emig Road widen the railroad underpass in Manchester Township, $20,600,000.
  • I-83 bridge rehabilitation, bridge preservation, resurfacing from Maryland line to a quarter-mile south of PA 214 in Hopewell, Shrewsbury and Springfield Townships, $12,250,000.
  • I-83 mill and resurface from PA 921 to Exit 35 (PA 177) in Manchester, East Manchester, Conewago, Newberry and Fairview Townships, $9,200,000.
  • PA 194 (Baltimore Pike) resurface from Adams county line to Franklin Town Road in Washington Township, $5,500,000.
  • PA 216 (Blooming Grove Road) resurface from PA 516 (Jefferson Road) to Grandview Road in Penn, Codorus, Manheim, West Manheim Townships, $5,200,000.
  • PA 24 (Cape Horn Road/North Main Street) resurface from PA 124 (East Prospect Road/Mount Rose Avenue) to PA 74 (Broadway Street) in York and Windsor Townships and Red Lion Borough, $4,835,531.
  • PA 382 (Lewisberry Road) resurface from PA 114 (Cedars Road) to I-83 in Newberry and Fairview Townships and Lewisberry Borough, $3,465,000.
  • US 30 (Lincoln Highway) Study to determine locations for passing lanes between PA 116 (Salem Church Road) to the Adams County Line in West Manchester, Jackson and Paradise Townships, $3,400,000.
  • New Park Road resurface from PA 851 to South of Lower Chanceford Township Line in Fawn Township, $3,100,000.
  • PA 462 (Lincoln Highway) resurface from Freysville Road to Howard Avenue in Hellam Township, Hallam Borough, and Wrightsville Borough, $3,000,000.
  • Plank Road resurface from Main Street to PA 24 in Shrewsbury Borough and Hopewell Township, $2,900,000.
  • PA 74 (Carlisle Avenue) install adaptive signal system from US 30 (Lincoln Highway) to the Dover Borough in Dover and West Manchester Townships, $2,500,000.
  • Reynolds Mill Road resurface from PA 214 to George Street in Springfield and York Townships, $2,100,000.
  • Susquehanna Trail resurface from PA 851 (Forrest Avenue) to PA 216 (Seaks Run Road) in Shrewsbury and Springfield Townships and Shrewsbury Borough, $2,000,000.
  • Harmony Grove Road resurface from Conewago Road to PA 74 (Carlisle Road) in Dover Township, $1,900,000.
  • Moulstown Road  resurface from Iron Ridge Road to East of Younge Road in Penn and Heidelberg Townships, $1,600,000.
  • PA 516 (Jefferson Road) resurface from PA 116 to Jefferson Borough Line in North Codorus Township and Jefferson Borough, $1,500,000.
  • Church Street resurface resurface from PA 216 (Main Street) to Susquehanna Trail in Glen Rock Borough and Shrewsbury Township, $1,500,000.
  • Indian Rock Dam Road resurface from PA 182 to Days Mill Road in North Codorus Township and Manchester Township, $1,500,000.
  • Old Forge Road resurface from PA 114 to Cumberland County Line in Fairview Township, $1,500,000.
  • PA 238 (Church Road) resurface from PA 181 (North George Street) to Farmtrail Road in Manchester Township, $1,250,000.
  • PA 616 (Seven Valleys Road), Green Valley Road and PA 214 (Main Street) intersection safety improvements, potential roundabout in North Codorus Township, $1,200,000.
  • Springwood Road resurface from PA 74 (South Queen Street) to Camp Betty Washington Road in York Township, $1,200,000.
  • Creek Road resurface from PA 194 (Baltimore Pike) to Doe Run Road in Washington Township, $1,100,000.
  • Campground Road resurface from Mountain Road to PA 74 in Carroll Township, $1,100,000.
  • PA 372 (Holtwood Road) resurface from Slab Road to the Susquehanna River Bridge in Lower Chanceford Township, $1,000,000.
  • PA 851(Gracetown Road/Main Street) resurface from Rocks Road to Gracetown Road in Fawn Grove Borough and Fawn Township, $900,000.
  • Hollywood Drive/Hill Street resurface from PA 124 (Mt Rose Avenue) to PA 74 (South Queen Street) in York and Spring Garden Townships, $900,000.
  • Marsh Run Road resurface from Old York Road to Mifflin Avenue in Fairview Township, $900,000.
  • Country Club Road resurface from PA 74 to PA 24 in York Township and Red Lion Borough, $850,000.
  • US 30 adaptive signalization from Kenneth Road to North Hills Road, $750,000.
  • PA 116 resurface from PA 516 (Jefferson Road) to Hanover Street in North Codorus Township and Spring Grove Borough, $750,000.
  • Old Stage Road resurface from PA 114 to Old Forge Road in Fairview Township, $750,000.
  • Elm Avenue resurface from Adams County line to PA 94 (Carlisle Street) in Hanover Borough, $650,000.
  • Spangler’s Mill Road resurface from PA 114 to Lower Allen Township Line in Fairview Township, $650,000.
  • I-83 at PA 921 (Canal Road) point of access study for a new interchange in East Manchester Township, $600,000.

For more information click here.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approves House Bill 1060, the transportation bill, by a vote of 113 – 85. The measure represents the first major increase in transportation funding since the state’s gasoline tax was raised by 3.5 cents a gallon 17 years ago. The state senate passed the same measure yesterday by a 43 – 7 vote.

The final House vote sends to the governor’s desk for his signature.

By the fifth year of the plan, this legislation invests an additional:

  • $1.3 billion annually for state roads and bridges;
  • $480 million-$495 million annually for public transportation;
  • $237 million annually for local roads and bridges;
  • $144 million annually in a multi-modal fund;
  • $30 million annually for dirt, gravel and low-volume roadways; and
  • $86 million annually for Pennsylvania Turnpike expansion projects.

Governor Corbett says he will sign the bill into law sometime this week.

Local News

Pa. Senate approves road funding plan

During a contentious session Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate voted 43-7 to move forward with a plan estimated to raise about $2.3 billion annually for roads, bridges and mass transit.

The House approved the plan Tuesday night but will have to take a final vote Thursday afternoon before it heads to Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

“Everyone in Pennsylvania knows that our bridges and roads are deficient, and they’re falling apart. We had to do something,” said Sen. Richard Alloway (R- 33rd District).

Democrats tried unsuccessfully to have language stripped from the bill affecting Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage laws. The bill raises the threshold at which workers must be paid the state’s prevailing wage. The current threshold is construction projects costing more than $25,000. The new threshold would be $100,000.

Some union leaders view the move as an attack on workers’ wages.

“And, it’s unfortunate that all of this maneuvering took place on something that everyone should be able to get behind,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz (D- 15th District). He was among the seven senators who voted against passing the bill.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-196th) initially voted against the plan earlier this week before receiving reassurances the prevailing wage changes would be included in the bill’s final version.

“Their angling is if it’s removed out of it, it’ll go back to status quo, and there won’t be any leverage to change it. So, putting it in the transportation bill guarantees that it does get done,” said Grove.

Democrats also questioned a provision in the bill that raises the state’s maximum speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 70. Teplitz pointed out there had been no public hearings on the issue.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R) supported the measure.

“The timing of the speed limit increase is both acceptable and necessary to include as a part of the transportation plan, in light of the significant amount of funding being invested in transportation infrastructure across the state,” said Scarnati.

The bill raises a variety of fees. For example, driver license fees would increase from $21 to $22 in 2015-2016 and from $22 to $23 in 2017-2018.

The plan eliminates a 12-cent per gallon tax on gasoline. It also lifts the cap on a tax oil companies pay. Opponents of the bill fear that increase will be passed onto drivers. Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch estimated it could add up to 28.5 cents per gallon.

The House is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Thursday. A spokesman in the governor’s office said Corbett potentially could sign the bill into law Thursday night, though the logistics were still being discussed.

The State House voted Tuesday night to pass a $2 billion transportation funding bill.  The House voted 104 to 95 to pass the amended bill that would raise more than $2 billion to be spend on roadways and bridges across the state.  The money comes through a variety of taxes, tax cuts and fee changes.  The amended bill will now head to the State Senate for debate.  Meanwhile, Governor Corbett praised the House’s passage of the amendment and hopes that the bill will make it to his desk before the General Assembly breaks for the holiday season.

With time running out  before the end of 2013, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) urged lawmakers Monday to pass a transportation funding bill, one of the governor’s top legislative priorities as he campaigns for re-election next year.

Corbett said the longer lawmakers wait to find a funding source to fix the commonwealth’s crumbling roads and bridges, the more expensive the price tag will be.

“I urge the entire legislature to vote for this very non-partisan, non-Democrat, non-Republican, non-labor, non-business, commonsense bill for the people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said at a news conference Monday.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), business leaders, some union representatives and a variety of other lawmakers joined Corbett in calling for action.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a $2.5 billion funding package. The House has not acted.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Nick Micozzie (R-163rd) has offered a plan which would raise about $2.3 billion per year through a variety of measures. They include driver license fee increases beginning in 2015. The fee would go from $21 to $23 by 2017.

The plan eliminates the 12-cent retail gas tax and lifts the cap on the oil company franchise tax, which is charged at the wholesale level. Opponents of that move say that cost likely will be passed onto drivers.

Micozzie says his plan would create 50,000 new jobs.

“There’s a tragedy waiting to happen. A bridge is going to fall down if we don’t do something about this. It’s critical, critical,” said Micozzie.

His plan also includes a controversial proposal to change the state’s prevailing wage laws. It would raise the threshold at which prevailing wages are to be paid for construction of transportation projects from the current $25,000 to $100,000.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and some Democratic lawmakers oppose the move, saying it would lead to reduced wages for workers.

“It’s a debate that should be on the merits with its own separate vote if we’re going to go down that road but not jeopardize the need to get transportation done now,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-15th).

Micozzie’s plan also faces criticism from within his own party.

“The Majority Leader is not for my amendment. And, when you have a majority leader that’s going to push against it, it makes it more difficult,” said Micozzie.

House Republicans spent much of Monday afternoon caucusing. The floor session began at 6:15 p.m. Micozzie said he hoped to see a plan passed by Wednesday evening.

Lawmakers from both parties pointed out if a plan does not pass soon, they believe the issue will be dead until after next year’s elections.

Governor Tom Corbett today urged the state House of Representatives to adopt a compromise transportation plan that will keep Pennsylvanians safe, keep Pennsylvania businesses competitive, create jobs and keep drivers and transit riders moving.

“Pennsylvanians can wait no longer to be assured their bridges will be safe and remain open, their highways will remain smooth, and their transit systems will be kept in place,” Corbett said. “No action on the compromise plan that all sides have hammered out in the last few weeks is not acceptable. Pennsylvania will suffer in many ways if this opportunity passes.”

Corbett has made stops around the state calling attention to the outstanding transportation needs and urging legislators to vote for a solution. A compromise plan that addresses Pennsylvania’s backlog of bridge maintenance, pavement, congestion and transit needs has taken shape and is expected to be ready this week for votes.

“We have waited decades for action on a comprehensive transportation plan,” Corbett said. “This week, we need action that delivers final votes on a comprehensive plan to address our crumbling roads, weakening bridges and failing transit systems.”

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch added, “I thank the governor for his leadership, and the members of the Legislature and staff who have worked diligently to bring us to this point. We are now one step closer to passing the most significant transportation legislation in decades.”

For more information on transportation funding, visit

PennDOT will start repairs to a structurally deficient Harrisburg bridge early next year. But one business owner says the repairs to the Mulberry Street Bridge will do damage to his business.

Howard Henry has owned Howard Tire along Cameron Street in Harrisburg for 15 years.  Part of his business is directly under the deficient Mulberry Street Bridge. PennDOT is fixing the bridge, leaving Howard with a problem of his own – the ramp below. He uses the ramp daily to get tires in and out of his warehouse.  He says without being able to use it would basically shut his business down.

“  It`s that critically important we`re saying can`t you understand how critically important this is. You can`t take this. It isn’t something you can just take it`s what we do it`s how we operate, “ says Henry

PennDOT says the ramp belongs to the state and they’ve tried to work with Howard.

“ He`s going to have to make other accommodations. The area under the bridge is owned by PennDOT and is commonwealth property, “  says Greg Penny PennDOT spokesperson

Howard and his attorney acknowledge that he doesn’t own the ramp but their argument is that it’s a shared public right of way. However, eminent domain gives the power to the state.

“  The real issue is trying to get a business that employs 12 people and is a good tax base for the city alive and well  to co-exist with this project which is also needed, :” says Louis Martin, Attorney

PennDOT says they have tried to work with Howard to come up with a solution.

“ In this case when we were trying to work something out he wasn`t amenable to anything we were proposing which is how we ended  up in this position, “ says Penny

But Howard says the future of his business is still unknown.

“ How can we work together? That`s all we`re asking, “ says Henry


Progress on a public-private partnership (P3) to quickly replace hundreds of structurally deficient bridges continued today as PennDOT hosted an industry forum to educate potential, private-sector stakeholders on the project’s scope and requirements.

The forum was held in Hershey and was assembled after the project was approved by the P3 Board on Sept. 27.

“While we look to the legislature to act on transportation funding when they return to session next week, we’re continuing to use our existing dollars more efficiently. Increased partnership with the private sector is part of that commitment,” PennDOT Secretary and P3 Board Chairman Barry J. Schoch said. “Bringing in a third party to help with this bridge project effectively uses the P3 law signed by Governor Corbett, but the project could have even more impact if the state had more dollars to invest.”

Through the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, 200 to 300 structurally deficient bridges of similar design would be replaced under one contract to streamline design and construction. The successful low-bidder would manage the bridges’ design, construction and maintenance. Cost savings are anticipated since the same basic design and construction standards could be used for multiple bridges. The low-bidder would also maintain bridges for a yet-to-be-determined number of years.

As the project scope is based on current PennDOT funding availability, the project could be adjusted or have additional bridges added if the General Assembly passes a transportation funding plan.

In September 2012, Corbett signed into law the Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects.

As part of the P3 law, the seven-member Public Private Transportation Partnership Board was appointed to examine and approve potential public-private transportation projects. If the board determines a state operation or project would be more cost-effectively administered or delivered by a private company, the department or appropriate transportation agency can advertise a competitive RFP and enter into a contract with a company to completely or partially deliver the transportation-related service or project.

To learn more about P3 in Pennsylvania, visit