Centre supports $1.95 million at-risk bridge bundle project
By EMMA GOSALVEZ
BELLEFONTE – Centre County has three large-scale, structurally deficient bridges that need funding for repairs in the near future.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Centre County Commissioners vocalized their support for a bridge bundle project that the county is re-seeking funding to save these three bridges. Centre County Senior Transportation Planner Mike Bloom said the county approached the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Commonwealth Financing Authority for grant funding for these bridges last year but did not get awarded the funding. Bloom came before the commissioners on Tuesday to discuss applying for funds again this year, with a requested increase of $250,000 due to further deterioration of the involved bridges and input from PennDOT.
The three bridges, T-942 Lower Coleville Road in Spring Township, T-489 Front Street in Curtin Township and T-526 Fox Gap Road in Miles Township, will cost a total of $1.95 million to repair, Bloom said. The first two bridges are estimated to cost $800,000 each, with the T-526 bridge expected to cost $350,000.
There is a county match of 30 percent, or $585,000, required for the $1,365,000 grant, and the match would use existing ACT 13 At Risk Local Bridge funds, according to Bloom. After the commitment to these three bridges, the county will have committed $998,914 of its ACT 13 funds to local bridge projects since 2014, with $341,771.11 remaining from received funding.
“The reason we’re bringing these projects together is they’re very similar structure types and they’re showing very similar types of repairs,” Bloom said.
In terms of priority, the T-942 and T-526 bridges are at the top of the list, with both facing six-month inspection cycles. Bloom explained that the T-526 bridge is in the best shape structurally of the three bridges, but it is showing early signs of deterioration.
“The way PennDOT handles these is your very basic inspections are two years,” Bloom said. “When you start to show more deterioration you drop to one. When you start to get to the point where it’s becoming critical, you’re in that six-month inspection cycle.”
At the very top of the list is the T-942 bridge. Bloom said this bridge raises the most concerns and has the most structural issues.
“That is one that’s going to need some addressing here pretty quick,” he said.
A number of the bridge’s beams are showing severe deterioration and it has a current weight restriction of 19 tons. Bloom said that the bridge currently has a one-lane restriction in place until repairs can be made.
From a planning perspective, the T-489 bridge raises a lot of concern, he said. That bridge is the only access point for traffic into the area and its two exterior concrete beams are getting to the point where they need to be addressed soon. The beams are expected to continue to deteriorate and a weight restriction is foreseeable in the near future.
The county is looking to apply to both PennDOT and DCED’s Multimodal Transportation programs, Bloom stated. The PennDOT program has a March 30 application deadline and DCED has a July 31 deadline.
At their Tuesday, March 27 meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners will take final action on approving the grant application and submitting a letter of commitment for the bridge bundle project. County planning staff have received support from each involved municipality.
There will not be a meeting held on Tuesday, March 20, as the commissioners will be attending the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Conference in Harrisburg.