Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wolf Administration Announces Local Bridge Program to Benefit Schuylkill County

On Tuesday, the Wolf Administration announced a new local bridge improvement  partnership to rehabilitate the Zimmerman Bridge in Schuylkill County through the Road Maintenance and Preservation, or Road MaP, initiative.

“We’re improving hundreds of state-owned bridges every year and this Road MaP program is one way that we’re helping local governments with the bridges that they own,” Richards said. “I commend the county and our regional planning partner for recognizing and acting on these needed improvements in Schuylkill County.”

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Metropolitan Planning Organization (NEPA MPO) added its administrative approval for the rehabilitation project on the Zimmerman Bridge, a historic Timber Burr Truss Covered Bridge that carries Covered Bridge Road over Lower Little Swatara Creek in Washington Township.

The estimated roughly $2 million bridge rehabilitation will use federal funds made available for local bridge partnerships announced as part of Road MaP.

Through Road MaP, PennDOT is making opportunities available for counties who have taken steps to enhance their transportation networks by collecting the $5 vehicle registration fee enabled by Act 89 of 2013, the state transportation plan.

The partnership makes available up to $2 million for each county that has passed a fee resolution, with a 50-percent local match commitment required to secure the program funding.

“At today’s NEPA MPO committee meeting, we were informed that improvements to a structurally deficient Schuylkill County owned bridge were being funded by dollars generated by the Schuylkill County Commissioners through the Road MaP Program,” said Alan S. Baranski, AICP, vice president, Transportation Planning Services, NEPA MPO. “Adding a local bridge to the region’s TIP is always a success. The opportunity to leverage federal funds with local dollars under the Road MaP program presents a great incentive for partnership between our counties and PennDOT to help address the aging bridge infrastructure needs in the region. We look forward to adding other Road MaP funded county-owned bridge improvement projects within our other participating MPO counties.”

The structurally deficient Zimmerman Bridge was constructed in 1880 and placed on the Pennsylvania Historic Places list in 1976. The bridge currently has a 3-ton weight limit and trucks are banned.

“One of the objectives the County of Schuylkill has strived to accomplish is maximizing available funding, especially for improvements to our county-owned bridges,” said Commissioner George F. Holcovage Jr., chairman of the board of commissioners. “Through the Road Maintenance and Preservation initiative, Schuylkill County will be able to use roughly $2 million to rehabilitate
Bridge 114, a covered bridge in Washington Township, over Lower Little Swatara Creek.

Bridge 114 is one of two covered bridges in our county, and is on both the State and National Historical Registries. With the Road MaP funding, the structural capacity will be improved, as it is currently restricted at 3 tons.

This will include replacing the deteriorated timber members and rehabilitating to carry all live vehicular loads. The County of Schuylkill looks forward to this partnership with PennDOT to not only preserve the historical integrity of Bridge 114, but also increase the safety in travel for our residents.”

This component of Road MaP is aimed at addressing the needs of Pennsylvania’s 6,477 locally owned bridges, of which 2,038 – or more than 31 percent – are structurally deficient. The need to improve local bridges was underscored when the biennial Transportation Performance Report, assembled by PennDOT, the State Transportation Commission, and the Transportation Advisory Committee and viewable at www.TalkPATransportation.com, identified local bridges as the only
category receiving a “low” performance rating.