Bridge Repair Goal Exceeded; Challenges Remain
HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Transportation opened bids during 2010 on 885 highway and bridge improvement projects worth more than $2.1 billion, Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. said today.
The bridge contracts alone are worth more than $900 million, including the reconstruction of 611 structurally deficient bridges done as part of the Accelerated Bridge Program sought by Governor Rendell and approved by the General Assembly in 2008. PennDOT exceeded, by 458 bridges, its three-year goal of starting work on 1,145 structurally deficient bridges. The number of structurally deficient bridges is now down to 5,371 after reaching a high of 6,034 in mid-2008.
"Even in the face of constrained resources, the men and women of PennDOT, in partnership with the private consulting and contracting industries, continue to produce real, long-term benefits for the people of Pennsylvania," Biehler said. "We have made progress on the structurally deficient bridge problem, and we have chipped away at the sections of poor pavement across the state."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped tremendously, both in adding to the bridge and pavement work PennDOT accomplished and making sure more than 8,000 people a month were at work on transportation improvement projects in the state despite the worst recession since the Great Depression.
With the help of the $1.028 billion Pennsylvania received from the Recovery Act for the state highway and bridge network, 2009 contracts totaled $2.8 billion. For 2011, PennDOT estimates it will initiate $1.7 billion in highway and bridge contracts.
"The reality is our resources are shrinking and some tough decisions lie ahead," Biehler said.
The nation still awaits action by Congress on a replacement for SAFETEA-LU — the six-year federal transportation law that expired in September 2009 — and has been replaced with five temporary extensions. Congress is enacting a sixth extension to carry through March 2011.
The state Transportation Advisory Committee concluded in May 2010 that Pennsylvania is short $3.5 billion per year in what is needed to keep its highway, bridge and transit systems in a state of good repair, with a modest $300 million a year for capacity expansion.
Media contact: Rich Kirkpatrick, 717-783-8800
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation