Pennsylvania bridges in deep water

| 8/23/2005

An accident involving a dump truck and a dilapidated bridge in Pennsylvania has unearthed structural problems in nearly one-fourth of all of the state’s bridges.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, near Duncannon , PA , truck driver Leon G. Kelley, while in his truck, fell through a collapsed part of the deck of a 78-year-old bridge and landed 20 feet below into Sherman Creek. He was taken to the hospital, but suffered only minor injuries, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.

According to a press release from Greg Penny of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, an investigation is underway to determine whether Kelley’s tri-axle truck was over the bridge’s 15-ton weight limit. Following the accident, PennDOT also released a warning to truckers to stay off of bridges where they exceed the weight limits.

However, the release also said the bridge was scheduled for a $2.3 million reconstruction beginning next year. Gary Hoffman, PennDOT deputy secretary for highway administration, also told the Patriot-News that 22 percent of the state’s 25,000 bridges are structurally deficient, and carry with them a repair price tag in the billions of dollars.

“Our bridges have an average age of over 50 years,” Hoffman said.

According to PennDOT, they invested about $363 million last year into the rehabilitation, preservation or replacement of 264 bridges. This year, the department will invest about $350 million to rehabilitate, or replace about 270 bridges statewide.