Pa. looks to private firms to repair worst of state bridges

    A plan to bring public and private dollars together to fix some of Pennsylvania’s structurally deficient bridges is moving forward.

    A state panel has approved an initiative to begin looking for private companies to help rebuild state, county, and local bridges under contracts that would ensure lower costs and a faster turnaround.

    The plan won’t affect structures that just received new or additional weight restrictions, however, because they aren’t so far gone as to need full replacement.

    PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch says the public-private partnership is geared toward bridges that need to be totally rebuilt.

    “We’ve learned from other states, if you do just a rehabilitation, there’s other elements that already exist, and then if a problem occurs, what’s the reason for the problem?” he said. “You get into a very difficult engineering forensics, as to who’s responsible and we want to avoid that and say that we want only bridges that are built from the ground up, so that everything they touch, they’re responsible for.”

    The program could result in around 200 state bridge replacements, without any additional transportation funding.

    If the Legislature approves additional money, Schoch said as many as 1,000 state bridges could be replaced.

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