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April 02, 2019

Pennsylvania has second-most structurally deficient bridges in U.S.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association does, however, see progress being made

Infrastructure Transportation
Vine Street Expressway I-95 Source/Google Street View

I-95 overpass above 8th Street and Vine Street in the Chinatown section of Center City Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania has the second-most structurally deficient bridges in the United States, according to a new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

The state hasn’t improved on its runner-up status from 2017, when the ARTBA released the same report and Pennsylvania also finished second worst among the 50 states.

Pennsylvania, according to the report, has 3,770 structurally deficient bridges, which the study defines as bridges considered to be in poor condition, and in need of urgent repairs. Only Iowa has more, with 4,675 structurally deficient bridges.

Pennsylvania also ranks fifth in the country when looking at the percentage of bridges in each state that are deficient, with 16.5%. The Keystone State only fared better than Rhode Island (23%), West Virginia (19.8%), Iowa (19.3%), and South Dakota (16.7%).

The report also offers a state-by-state breakdown of where the bridges in question are located. Good news, by which we mean not good news: The eight most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in the state are right here in Philadelphia County.

The most-traveled structurally deficient bridges are two stretches of Interstate 95, running about Fraley Street and Comly Street in Northeast Philly. These bridges were built in 1967, and see nearly 195,000 daily crossings, according to ARTBA.

It stands to reason that the most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in the state would be located in the most populous county in the state, but it’s still concerning.

Other bridges in that eight-bridge count include stretches of I-95 in Port Richmond and Fishtown.

There is some good news for Pennsylvania in the report: The state is making progress. 

The 3,770 structurally deficient bridges are down in a big way from the 4,969 structurally deficient bridges ARTBA found in its 2014 report. And the state has identified 11,758 bridges in need of repairs in 2019, down from 13,298 in need of repairs back in 2014.

Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced his “Restore Pennsylvania” infrastructure plan, in which he acknowledged that the American Society of Engineers gave Pennsylvania a D+ grade for the quality of its roads and bridges.

According to Wolf's office, "Restore Pennsylvania" has ticketed $4.5 billion towards the state's infrastructure, which will pay for upgrades to local roads; create flexible options for businesses that need infrastructure upgrades for growth; and establish multimodal and large-scale capital projects for transit.

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