Troubled Bridges

Warren County is home to four of the state’s more than 6,000 structurally deficient bridges.

Approximately 1,000 of those bridges, both state and locally owned, have new or lowered weight restrictions imposed effective Nov. 6, including the bridges in Warren.

Of the bridges involved in the county, two are state owned and two local.

“We look at bridges based on the substructure, the beams and the deck,” PennDOT District 1 Bridge Engineer Bill Koller said. “If any of those three is poor, the bridge is structurally deficient.”

Components are rated on a scale of zero through nine. A rating of four or less is considered poor.

That doesn’t mean the bridges are impassable, just that they have a lowered factor of safety.

According to information on the PennDOT website, bridges are designed to carry loads in excess of a fully-loaded tractor trailer’s 40 tons. When PennDOT assesses bridge wear indicating a lowered factor of safety, weight limits are posted.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not safe,” Koller said. “When a bridge becomes poor, we need to reduce the amount and weight of traffic to make it last longer. Anything between 30 and 40 tons basically restricts tri-axles and under 30 you’re restricting dual axles. We just need to abide by the postings so we can all work together to make these bridges last.”

Koller said PennDOT has approached labeling of structurally deficient bridges from a better safe than sorry standpoint.

“We have been on the liberal side of posting in Pennsylvania,” he said. “The idea is we were trying to limit the inconvenience to the public. We were very liberal a few decades ago with it. We’ve fixed or replaced a lot of those bridges. If we were in Connecticut, we’d have three or four times that many, so we’re still on the liberal side, but not as much as some places.”

Bridges in the county deemed structurally deficient and their new or lowered weight restriction include:

Route 957 at the crossing of Little Brokenstraw Creek in Freehold Township – 36 tons or 40 tons for combined loads.

State Route 1011, Conewango Ave., at the crossing of Hatch Run in Glade Township – 34 tons or 37 tons for combined loads.

Egypt Hollow Road at the crossing of Ackley Run in Pine Grove Township – 14 tons or 17 tons for combined loads.

Jinks Road at the crossing of Whitney Run in Spring Creek Township – 19 tons or 31 tons for combined loads.