Lake Bridge 001
BY KYLE WIND
Nine Wyoming County’s structurally deficient bridges are eligible to be rebuilt starting in 2015 under the state Department of Transportation’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.
Gov. Tom Corbett approved the replacement program in 2012. The $2.3 billion-plus transportation bill, which became law late last month, pumps additional money into that program.
Without this increase in funding, bridges not considered priorities among Northeast Pennsylvania’s approximately 560 state-owned deficient bridges would languish for years without help, said Steve Pitoniak, Lackawanna County’s transportation planning manager.
For example, nearly 13,500 people cross Scranton’s Green Ridge Street Bridge every day, but Pitoniak said there are nearby alternative routes if the bridge deteriorates to the point at which it must close, making it a lesser priority.
But if closing the bridge became necessary, Pitoniak said it would force significant amounts of traffic through fewer routes, increasing congestion in affected neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, the prospect of rehabilitating or replacing the structure that spans Lackawanna River would get more expensive as construction costs rise over time.
“It’s just not as important as some other bridges,” Pitoniak said of the Green Ridge Street Bridge. “It would have to wait.”
It might still have to wait, depending on which of the eligible bridges in the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project make PennDOT’s cut.
In total, PennDOT this month identified 997 bridges across the state as eligible for replacement.
PennDOT could have replaced 200 to 300 of those bridges under the existing funding levels, but with new money from the transportation bill, officials now expect to replace “at least 500 bridges,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.
The replacement program was designed to begin to address the state’s approximately 4,500 structurally deficient bridges quickly and less expensively.
Program planners identified single and double spans of simple design among the first round of eligible bridges. The plan is to save money by creating “an economy of scale” as contractors replace many similar bridges, Waters-Trasatt said. The private teams would be responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining replacement bridges, with the state reimbursing the contractors over 25 to 35 years.
Contractors interested in participating have until Jan. 31 to submit qualifications, at which point Waters-Trasatt said PennDOT will prioritize and narrow the list of eligible bridges, then invite teams to submit specific proposals to replace them.
By county in Northeast Pennsylvania, eight bridges in Lackawanna County are currently eligible to be replaced, compared to 11 bridges in Luzerne County, nine bridges in Wyoming County, 17 bridges in Susquehanna County, four bridges in Pike County, 11 bridges in Wayne County and 32 bridges in Monroe County.
The bridges eligible for replacement include:
*Eaton Twp. – Bridge over Moneypenny Creek
*Meshoppen Boro- arch deck bridge over Little Meshoppen Creek
*Monroe Twp. – Bridge over South Run Creek
*Nicholson Boro – Bridge over Delaware & Hudson RR
*Nicholson Twp. – Bridge over Monroe Creek
*North Branch Twp. – bridge over Miller Brook
*Northmoreland Twp. – channel beam bridge on over Whitelock Creek
*Tunkhannock Twp. – bridge over the outlet to Lake Carey
*Washington Twp. –Vosburg Rd. bridge over Reading, Blue Mt. & Northern RR