Harrisburg, August 27, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said he is not surprised by PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch’s decision last week to weight restrict about 1,000 bridges in Pennsylvania.

“This is about public safety,” Brewster said.  “The legislature failed to pass a transportation bill that provided enough funds to repair Pennsylvania’s structurally deficient bridges.  Now, Secretary Schoch is left with the difficult task of maintaining safe roadways and bridges without adequate support.”

Pennsylvania has some of the oldest bridges in the country.  Due to natural deterioration that comes with age or excess use, 11,000 of the state’s bridges are classified as structurally deficient.  Although structurally deficient bridges are safe for motorists to drive on, the designation is an indication of future problems if precautions are not taken.

“Secretary Schoch is taking the steps necessary to avoid further deterioration and to protect the structural integrity of the state’s bridges,” Brewster said.  “It is unreasonable to criticize him for responding to a problem that was caused by the legislature’s inaction.”

“The list of weight restricted bridges will continue to grow until the legislature provides enough support to repair them,” Brewster said.  “The Secretary spent the last year traveling the state warning us of these possible restrictions if the legislature failed to pass a transportation bill, and now we are seeing his warnings being implemented.  This is no surprise.”

Brewster added, “The transportation bill was tied to a failed liquor privatization bill in the legislature and this was unacceptable and irresponsible.  We should not be playing politics with public safety.  We need to pay attention to Secretary Schoch’s reminders that several other states have experienced tragedies because of a failure to address inadequate infrastructure, including fallen bridges.”

Brewster said he will work with his colleagues to pass a comprehensive transportation bill that properly funds bridge and road repairs when the Senate begins a new session next month.


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