The number of structurally deficient bridges drops dramatically in the area
In a nine-county region that includes Bradford and Sullivan counties, the number of state-owned structurally deficient bridges is less than half of what it was four years ago, state Department of Transportation officials said.
The main reason for the reduction was the availability of federal stimulus dollars provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), according to PennDOT.
There are 193 structurally deficient bridges in PennDOT's District 3-0, a nine-county region which includes Bradford and Sullivan counties, down from 399 in 2009, PennDOT officials said.
A bridge is classified as structurally deficient if part of it is in an advanced state of deterioration. "Structurally deficient" does not mean that the bridge is unsafe, but some type of major rehabilitation is needed in the future, according to PennDOT.
Bradford County has 47 structurally deficient bridges, all of which are open, PennDOT said. Bradford County has the largest number of structurally deficient bridges in District 3-0, which is located in northeast and north-central Pennsylvania, according to PennDOT.
The reduction in the number of structurally deficient bridges allows PennDOT to focus more of its resources on maintenance and repairs aimed at preserving its bridges, according to PennDOT.
Currently, it is primarily small bridges in District 3-0 which remain structurally deficient, PennDOT said.
In general, the number of bumpy roads in District 3-0 has also been declining since 2004, according to PennDOT.
In 2011, the surface of 24 percent of the miles of the state roads in Bradford County were classified as "poor" on the International Roughness Index, down from 56 percent in 2004, according to PennDOT. During that seven-year period, the biggest decline in the number of poor miles occurred from 2010 to 2011, when gas drilling companies reconstructed a lot of secondary, low-volume roadways, according to PennDOT.
The International Roughness Index measures the amount of road surface roughness. A "poor" rating means the road is bumpy.
In District 3-0, the vast majority of roads rated as poor are those carrying the lightest amount of traffic, less than 2,000 vehicles per day, PennDOT said.
Besides road reconstruction by gas companies, funding from the ARRA and Pennsylvania's Act 44 has helped to improve the condition of the roadways, according to PennDOT.
While there have been gains in the condition of roadways and bridges in the region, much work still needs to be done, according to PennDOT.
PennDOT has been underfunded for decades, PennDOT officials say.
Gov. Tom Corbett is proposing an increase in the state's annual transportation spending, although it is less than what the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding Advisory Commission has called for.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com.