Thousands of Pa. bridges deemed ‘structurally deficient’

    Near SEPTA’s Wayne Junction station in Philadelphia, there’s a load-bearing pillar with a sign drilled into it, saying, “No parking, falling rock.”

    The pillar is deteriorated, shedding bits of rubble that are scattered on the ground. High above, an elevated stretch of Roosevelt Boulevard carries an estimated 60,000 vehicles per day.

    Holding some of that fallen debris in his hand, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner said this is but one example of a rampant problem in the Keystone State.

    “Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges — over 6,000 — than any other state in America” Wagner said. “Right here, in the Philadelphia region, we have 907.”

    In order to avoid road closures and potentially dangerous situations, Wagner says the state should allocate at least $2.5 billion per year to bring the infrastructure up to code. He says this would also create 50,000 jobs.

    “We are still in a recession. We need to invest in ourselves. There’s no better way to do it than by investing in infrastructure,” he said Wednesday.

    He says the state could finance repairs by raising the oil franchise tax — a move he expects would cost drivers an additional $2 per week in gasoline.

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s office dismissed that idea. Spokesman Kevin Harley called Wagner a “tax and spend liberal” who would be content with gasoline at $6 per gallon. Harley said the state is already making significant gains in roadway safety.

    The Republican governor’s office also questioned Democrat Wagner’s math. A representative said the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state is actually 4,813 — not the 6,000 Wagner cited.

    In the original version of this story, it was reported that information from PennDOT’s website agreed with Wagner. A PennDOT spokesperson says the information that was used from its website was out of date. Updated information is now avaialable on the PennDOT website.

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