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York County closes bridges only as a last resort when the condition of the bridge poses a clear and present threat to the safety of the traveling public. While some bridges are closed for short periods of time for quick repairs, others may be closed for a long duration while funding is secured for its repair or replacement. Repair or replacement of any bridge must be considered in the context of competing priorities of other bridge projects and the limited financial resources available to the County.
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Bridge maintenance and replacement projects are expensive and complicated. York County receives some funding to maintain and replace bridges within the county. This amount of funding is low due to the large cost for projects. Due to the age of the county bridges and the limited financial resources, many of the bridges need to be replaced or repaired at the same time, outpacing the current funding.
County-owned bridges are a component of the larger transportation network that connects everyone with goods and services, directly or indirectly. For example, although you may not use them directly, you may indirectly use them by buying goods from the store that were transported over one of the county bridges. Additionally, others in the community may rely on the bridges to carry emergency services, just as you rely on the transportation infrastructure to allow emergency services to get to your home.
By reading the updates on the county bridges that are currently being replaced or repaired, you can see that this is a relatively complex process. It is always the goal to complete the project to the highest standards and as quickly as possible. But due to the complexity and components of each project, they can take as little as 18 months or as long as 3 to 5 years.
While some bridges may appear to be structurally sound, there can be serious deterioration to components of the bridge that are not easily visible to the untrained eye. York County works closely with specialized engineers that inspect our bridges on a mandated annual or biannual basis.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is responsible for ensuring that nearly 32,000 bridges in Pennsylvania are inspected according to state and federal regulations. Approximately 25,000 bridges are owned by the state and inspections are done by PennDOT employees and consultants who are certified bridge safety inspectors. PennDOT provides oversight for the approximately 6,500 bridges owned and inspected by local municipalities and other agencies.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is responsible for inspecting their bridges and they are required to submit the inspection information to PennDOT.