Troubled Bridges

There are 65 bridges owned by municipalities throughout Warren County.

A recent survey by the county’s contracted engineer found that 21 of those bridges have a sufficiency rating less than 50.

What does the rating mean?

Those 21 are “critical” and in need of repair or replacement.

County Planner Dan Glotz said, “A third of our bridges are candidates for replacement.”

While the solution is easy replace a bridge the process to do so can take years, and a lot of money, to complete.

“Sometimes bridges can take a number of years to get from start to finish,” Glotz said, indicating all the money needed for the entirety of a project isn’t likely available at the same time.

Glotz explained that the percentage of deficient bridges in Warren County is comparable to that of surrounding counties.

While some of the 65 municipally-owned bridges in the county are inspected annually if needed, most are inspected on a biennial basis.

The inspection information allows Warren County’s representatives on the Northwest Rural Planning Organization (RPO), a five-county transportation group, to identify, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, what projects should have highest priority.

The county’s representatives on the RPO are Glotz, Warren County Commissioner Steven Vanco, Transit Authority of Warren County Director John Aldrich with City of Warren Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz as an alternate.

Glotz explained that the RPO is allocated a “pot of money” from the state for these projects, derived from multiple state programs, that then must be shared among the five counties.

The result is that each county has to advocate for its projects to be included on the Transportation Improvement Plan. “It’s give and take by everybody,” he said, emphasizing that the critical standard in assessing the worthiness of the projects is safety.

While 21 of the county’s municipally-owned bridges are in need of work, six are currently in the pipeline and programmed out as part of the plan and in various stages of the four-part construction process: preliminary engineering, final design, right of way acquisition and construction.

Construction will continue in the spring on the Center Street bridge in Sheffield.

Bridges on Irvine Run in Brokenstraw Township, Henry Mill in Sheffield Township, Way Road in Columbus Township, North Road in Freehold Township and River Road in Conewango Township are also on the Transportation Improvement Plan.

The North Road bridge has “been closed for quite some time,” Glotz said, explaining that it is critical for emergency service response times but is not located in a highly-populated area.

On River Road in Conewango Township, funding for the preliminary engineering phase is approved for 2013. However, no funding was available in the 2014 fiscal year and the project, without delays, won’t be completed until late 2016.

The other 15 bridges are located at:

Columbus Township Stewart Road, Alterbottom, Alderbottom, and Baker Hill Road.

Freehold Township Western Road

Pine Grove Township two on Egypt Hollow Road

Pittsfield Township Miles Run Road and an unnamed road

Spring Creek Township Jinks Road and Knapp Road

Eldred Township Chapel Hill Road

Elk Township Reynolds Road

Farmington Township Ludwick Road

Sugar Grove Township Jones Hill Road.