Report: Pennsylvania’s infrastructure sees slight improvement since 2018

Infrastructure is a lot of what you see and a lot of what you don’t see.

“Infrastructure is impacted by people, it’s impacted by weather,” said David DiGioia with the American Society of Civil Engineers.

So how is it holding up in Pennsylvania? Well in the last four years since the American Society of Civil Engineers released its infrastructure report, the grade has stayed the same: C-minus.

“There are certain areas that we will see improvements. We saw improvements in roads this year, with a strong economy in the beginning of the economy in the first two years, with funding coming into play that helped get some projects out on the streets,” DiGioia said.

Once the pandemic hit, it stalled a lot of the projects. Add in the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse and people are now looking at a need for improvement across the city.

“We have 147 bridges — 99 of those are vehicular bridges and 48 are pedestrian bridges. Some of our biggest bridges are Swindell down to little culverts. We have a huge range of bridges and about 23% or so are in poor condition,” said Eric Setzler, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure’s chief engineer.

Unlike the Fern Hollow, there aren’t emergency funds to fix all the poor bridges.

RELATED >> City Council approves infrastructure bills in wake of Fern Hollow Bridge collapse

“With the new administration we are using city money to really ramp up the maintenance day-to-day work that keeps a bridge from deteriorating. Keep it clean, keep the potholes patched, keep the joints from leaking, keep water off the bridge — it keeps it from deteriorating, it’s a multiprong approach,” Setzler said.

As for big projects, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure said designs are underway for the Swineburne Bridge and South Negley Avenue.

It’s also moving forward with work on the Swindell bridge and West Carson Street. The hope is to improve these infrastructure grades.

“I know we are going to be in a much better position in 4-5 years than we are now and I think statewide and nationally we are in a position to improve that grade,” Setzler said.

Channel 11 sent the report to PennDOT, which operates a number of roads in our region to get its take. They provided this statement:

PennDOT has made tremendous progress in improving Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure across all modes, but as the report indicates, we have an aging network that is underfunded. We appreciate the new federal investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which has already helped Pennsylvania make significant improvements to its infrastructure, but continued investment will be critical. Investments in transportation have historically paid dividends in economic development and thriving communities, and we continue to explore solutions that could help modernize transportation funding in Pennsylvania.

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