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Development & Transportation

Eight Times More Likely To Pass a Deficient Bridge than a McDonald's

A crowd gathered Friday under the 28th Street Bridge, which links the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Polish Hill and the Strip District, as Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner declared Pennsylvania has "the worst bridges in the country."

Wagner said Pittsburgh has the most structurally deficient bridges of any metro area in the nation, citing a 2011 study by Transportation for America, a D.C.-based advocacy group. He said there are almost 6,000 structurally deficient bridges throughout Pennsylvania and 8,000 miles of highway rated as "poor."

"That has been reported repeatedly, but there is nothing being done to correct the problem," said Wagner.

He used the 28th Street Bridge as an example of the region's infrastructure.

"This is a structural component of a bridge," said Wagner as he pulled concrete from the base of the bridge. "Look at the steel on this bridge. It is crumbling. It is crumbling, but there's still traffic going over the bridge. This bridge is calling out for an immediate solution to correct the structural deficiency."

According to the study, 30.4% of the Pittsburgh region's bridges were structurally deficient, the highest among the 102 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. It states the Pittsburgh metro region (which includes 5 counties) had 1,113 structurally deficient bridges; no other metro area had more than 1,000.

The Transportation Funding Advisory Committee called for billions of dollars of reinvestment into PennDOT's deteriorating infrastructure last summer. Plans for boosting transportation spending included increasing drivers' registration fees and closing drivers license centers to save costs.

Governor Corbett has yet to follow up on the Committee's recommendations. A spokesman said earlier this year the administration would focus on the transportation issue after a general budget is in place.