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PennDOT reassures drivers it is working to make its infrastructure safe

Nearly 14% of Pennsylvania bridges are in poor condition, ranking 5th in the country, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

PennDOT is assuring drivers they are in good hands exactly one week after the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed and injured ten people.

"The public should be very much assured that we're doing everything we can do to make sure our infrastructure's very safe," said Mike Keiser, PennDOT's Acting Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration.

The department spent Friday afternoon addressing questions from inspections to condition ratings.

According to a new report from the American Road and Transportation Builder's Association, thousands of Pennsylvania Bridges are in poor condition.

"We do have a very rigorous process to evaluate those bridges to make sure they're safe," said Melissa Batula, PennDOT's Acting Executive Deputy Secretary. "Just because they say 'poor' doesn't mean there's something significantly wrong with that bridge."

Based on 2020 findings, the data says Pennsylvania has the second largest number of bridges in deplorable conditions in the country.

"It's really discouraging, and it's a shame on the people who are leading us to think that they would let this kind of threat to the people here; it doesn't need to be a threat," said Ryan Brink, a York County driver. 

As part of President Biden's infrastructure bill, Pennsylvania will receive $1.6 billion to upgrade highways and bridges.

PennDOT said the timing of when bridges will receive improvements will depend on a number of factors including the type of repair the bridge needs, traffic frequency, and if it's on a route to a hospital and used by first responders during an emergency.

Drivers said Pennsylvania should fix all bridges as soon as possible.

"The longer we wait, the more boondoggles we're going to get into," said Brink. "...More people are going to be injured through bridges collapsing, through lack of proper lighting."

PennDOT is urging drivers to abide by the weight restrictions posted on bridges and highways since they have a significant impact on their lifespan.

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