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Officials: Failing bridges at heart of infrastructure problems

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Herr Street bridge

The Herr Street Bridge in Harrisburg is considered structurally-deficient.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Drivers know all too well that Pennsylvania's roads and bridges are far from the best. In fact, Pennsylvania leads the nation when it comes to structurally deficient bridges.

One example is Harrisburg's Herr Street bridge.

"This particular bridge is structurally deficient. We have rusted rebar with pretty much 100 percent section loss in some areas," PennDOT engineer Doug Knoll said.

The bridge sees 12,000 drivers daily. A replacement project is in the works, but that is two years down the road.

Call the deterioration of the Herr Street bridge a microcosm for a problem spanning the state.

How did we get here?

"It's a little bit of the fact that the system was built at the same time, a little bit we have been under-investing for awhile," Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch said.

It's something Schoch said is at the heart of the state's infrastructure issues. He recently placed some blame on the legislature for not addressing transportation funding. In August, in order to curb the conundrum, he also placed weight restrictions on nearly 1,000 bridges.

At Jagtrux in Marietta, Lancaster County, they have been circumventing the restrictions, and it's costing them.

"We're paying the price the day it started in increased time, fuel and wear and tear," Jim Germak, owner of Jagtrux, Inc. said. "Now when they could run two trips to Baltimore, now they are lucky if they can get one in. It adds about 80 miles to their day. Its very difficult for us to manage it."

A cost that Germak said will reach the consumer, if it hasn't already.

Structurally deficient does not mean unsafe. It does indicate wear and tear. The state Senate passed a transportation funding bill, but the House has not. Opponents say the bill's funding is too fat and say it's a tax we will likely feel at the pump.

For more on this story, check out abc27's coverage here.


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