I’ve been asked to share with you the perspectives of a Division office on the question of whether to Rehabilitation or Replace an historic bridge. Respecting the many strong feelings on this topic – I hope to illuminate some of the considerations we face.
In the next few minutes, I’d like to briefly discuss these subjects:
As most of you know, Pennsylvania given its Keystone designation was subject to early settlement in the development of this country. With over 3400 properties LISTED on the National Register and numerous more determined eligible for listing through Section 106 process evaluations, the Commonwealth has an rich history evidenced through its historic properties. The geographical features of the state is that it is traversed by numerous watercourses which have lead to the need for and construction of a multitude of structures during the past 300+ years of European settlement. 31,400+ bridges in Pennsylvania 25,000 bridges owned by the Commonwealth (8’ greater) approx 190 state owned truss’s 6,400 owned by municipalities (counties/townships/boroughs…) (20’ greater)More that 13,000 state owned structures over 50 years oldMore that 3,200 local owned structures over 50 years old(REMEMBER – 20’ vs 8’)
The Transportation Planning Process in Pennsylvania is a FISCALLY CONSTRAINED process that identifies regional transportation needs based on input from the owners and users of the transportation networks. As you may have heard on any number of news reports, there are currently nearly 5000 structurally deficient bridges in Pennsylvania. This factors greatly in transportation planning process. Bridges are one of the major assets of the state. However, as noted before, many of these bridges are 50 years of greater in age.
One aspect of the transportation planning process is to assess and make a preliminary determination of the transportation purpose and need of a bridge projectThis is a typical transportation purpose for a fictional bridge project
Typical transportation needs for a bridge projectAfter the planning process is complete a project is identified on the 1st 4 years of the 12 year plan for the region. At the time of the identification, a cost estimate is established for a likely outcome. There are various ways these projects might be funded. Generally costs for bridge projects are funded at 80/20 where FHWA provides 80% and the state or local owner provides 20% or 80/15/5 where the FHWA provides 80%, the state 15% and the local 5%.
After being programmed, most bridge projects are subject to environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1966. These key steps of the NEPA process are a component of most projects regardless of the level of NEPA documentation, CE/EA or EIS). Many bridge projects are Categorically Excluded from NEPA subject to adequate or appropriate documentation to ensure that the federal aid project will not have significant impacts on the environment.
The next few slides document a few of the multitude of factors that are considered by the project managers and environmental specialists as they evaluate the project under NEPA. SafetyCondition - roadway, structure, Ownership -
Aid for financially distressed local governments in formulating financial recovery plans as well as providing funding through loans and grants. View a list of Act 47 municipalities and available recovery plans.Challenges for municipalitiesHow to managetheir assets, including but not limited to bridges, in the most effective manner. Balancing the costs of maintenance or rehabilitation as opposed to the cost of replacement
Adjacent Land Owners - size of farm equipment, traffic type, origins/destinations)Waterways – Navigable/floodway, endangered SpeciesAverage Daily Traffic (past, present, future)Ratio or trucks/cars
Local Pressures(farm equipment modernization, stores, zoning, development & plans)Structure Size – Smithfieldvs local 15’ structure on dirt roadEmergency Service Equipment(size and weight)
So, when we get the information….What Happens?
And now a few parting thoughts for you:In the past year – less than 15 section 106 agreements have been executed relative to the removal and replacement of historic structures in Pennsylvania. Given the extraordinary commitment of the Department and the FHWA to reduce the number of SD bridges in the state and the number of bridge projects undertaken, this is a small percentage. Like most states – not all historic bridges can be preserved in situ – nor in some cases should theyLike the NEPA process - the decision on how best to meet a transportation need should be made on the best available information. Not all information relevant to the decision making process is preservation based.To make betterWhat can you do as Cultural Resource or Transportation Professionals to further a safe and efficient transportation system while reasonably considering the preservation options available ?EDUCATE the public and more importantly the Municipal officials identifying transportation needs to opportunities to maintain, preserve historic structures. SOLICITE opportunities for creative or adaptive reuse of historic structures from the communities that offer fiscal incentives or opportunities for those municipalities. FLEXIBILITY respect the community who lives and works with the structure. We do not see the structure daily or have to face the limitations the adjacent property owners do. DO NOT discount their perspectives. Perhaps the only thing they can see is getting a new bridge so their new tractor can cross. Just agree to disagree – They have just as much right to their perspective as we do. Often times – it is their livelihood or safety that depends on the crossing.
To Rehabilitate or to Replace
To Rehabilitate or to Replace:The Question of Historic Bridges in Pennsylvania Photo: D. Anthony
Topics• Bridges in Pennsylvania•Transportation Needs• Factors regarding Bridge Projects• Data from 2011 on Historic Bridges• Concluding Thoughts
Bridges: What is Historic?residential buildings bridges farms railroads roads historic districts industrial buildings archaeological sites canals
Typical Transportation PurposeThe purpose of the project is to:provide a sustainable river crossing that re-establishes & improves the link between theKennelworth community (to the south) andFencingtown (to the north) & is consistent with bothexisting & planned development within thosecommunities & their immediate surroundings.
Typical Transportation Needs•Provide a link that is capable of carrying current legal loads & eliminatesthe "Structurally Deficient" designation of the bridge.•Eliminate the "Functionally Obsolete" designation of the link.•Provide a link that safely accommodates vehicular & pedestrian/biketraffic.•Improve safety & operation of adjacent intersections.