County looks to rank bridges by ‘deficiencies’

While the process of replacing a deficient bridge can take several years and a lot of money, local officials are doing what they can to procure funding for the bridges in greatest need.

County Planner Dan Glotz said he is working with local municipalities who have deficient bridges to rank the bridges by degree of need.

There are 65 bridges throughout the county that are municipally owned and over 20 feet long. A recent survey completed by the county’s engineer indicated that 21 of those bridges have a sufficiency rating of less than 50. That means they are “critical” and in need or repair or replacement. Locally-owned bridges are inspected every other year.

“We have some municipalities who have a number of bridges” in this category, Glotz explained.

Some of those deficient bridges are currently on the county’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), including a bridge on Way Road in Columbus Township, a bridge on River Road in Conewango Township and the Henrys Mill and Center Street bridges in Sheffield Township.

When considering a bridge for repair or replacement, average daily traffic, condition, the area it serves and how it impacts emergency response are factors that are contemplated.

Glotz said that average daily traffic is “an important number out there.”

Procuring funding is a challenge because Warren County is just one of five counties within a Rural Planning Organization that receives a joint allocation from the state to be split among all five member counties.

The process “is going to be an ongoing thing,” he said.

Glotz also explained that a review is underway to inventory all of the locally-owned bridges that are less than 20 feet long. That report will not provide a sufficiency rating for each structure.

However, “if (there are) red flags at the municipal level, it gives us a starting point,” said Glotz.

At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Warren County Council of Governments, he encouraged the municipal officials in attendance to review all of their bridges for “deficiencies.”

“Rank what you think are most important,” he told the officials. While a place on the TIP for a given bridge cannot be guaranteed, Glotz said that the information would be valuable as they begin to put together the next four-year segment of the TIP.