Broken Bridges in PA Take Toll

By Brandon McCormick –

Drivers be wary next time you cross a Pennsylvania bridge.

For the fifth year in a row, Pennsylvania tops the charts in percent of poor conditioned bridges throughout the nation. 26.5 percent of PA bridges were reported as structurally deficient.

This is compared to a national average of just 11 percent, less than half of PA’s percentage.

There are about 54 structurally deficient bridges in a 10-mile radius of Penn Manor High School.

These include SR3032 which crosses the Conestoga River just down the road from the school. South Creek Road bridge which crosses the Little Conestoga, as well as Eckman Road Bridge.

A deficient bridge is not necessarily unsafe, but needs to be monitored or repaired and does require significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement.

“There is a large inventory to keep up with,” said Greg Penny, the Community Relations Coordinator for PennDot.

The rating system to determine if a bridge is up to standards has three components, the deck, superstructure and substructure.

The substructure connects the bridge to the ground. The superstructure rest on the substructure and supports the deck. The deck is the part of the bridge that is driven on.

Each component is giving a rating out of 10. If any component of the bridge is scored a four or lower, the bridge is rated structurally deficient.

Bridges rated deficient are inspected every year, instead of every two years when most bridges are inspected. Bridges scored very high may be inspected up to every four years.

“The bridges have been active for a long time,” said Penny. “Rendell started the Accelerated Bridge Program so we get more money to address more bridges.

How much the repairs cost depend on the bridge and what exactly the bridge rating is. Some components take longer to fix resulting in a higher cost.

According to, due to the $4 billion budget deficit, PA will repair 45 percent fewer bridges this year than in 2010.

PennDot will repair 320 bridges compared to the 577 in 2010. The budget will be about $780 million this year, much less than the $923 million last year.

Corbett plans to continue borrowing $200 million a year for the Accelerated Bridge Program.

To find out what bridges aren’t quite up to code in your area, visit