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​Bridge Marketing FAQs

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Why are these bridges available?

​PennDOT, in conjunction with the owner if not PennDOT, has determined that these bridges cannot be rehabilitated to meet the needs of the travelling public or there is no longer a need for the crossing. Because these bridges are historic, meaning that they are eligible for listing in, or are already listed in, the National Register of Historic Places, the owners are required to market these bridges for adaptive use when a replacement or removal project utilizes federal funds or requires a federal permit.

What is wrong with these bridges?

​In most cases, these bridges are over 100 years old and have reached a point of requiring major rehabilitation, replacement or removal. Many of these bridges were not designed to handle modern vehicles such as fire trucks and fuel carrying trucks (e.g. coal trucks or oil delivery trucks). Most of these bridges were typically designed for a load capacity of 10 to 15 tons, which is sometime not sufficient for the needs of the crossing. Most of these bridges have significant structural deterioration that would need to be addressed by the buyer, depending upon the needs at the new location; in some cases the condition is satisfactory as-is for light vehicular or pedestrian use. The bridges also typically will contain lead paint.  The amount, or need for any, rehabilitation will depend upon the intended use.

What costs can the buyer expect?

Typical costs associated with the process include:

  • The cost of purchasing the bridge.  In many cases, for county or municipally owned structures, the bridge may be acquired free.  In the case of a state-owned structure, the bridges are sold to the highest, best use, bidder.  In past auctions bridges have been purchased for as little as one dollar. 
  • The cost of relocating the bridge to the desired location (transportation fee) including any oversize load permit.
  • The cost of disassembly/reassembly of the bridge.
  • Costs associated with structural engineering and planning (e.g. abutment design, waterway permit, etc.).
  • Modification or structural repair costs according to its intended use.
  • Any future maintenance costs.

Is money available to assist in activities such as dismantling, moving, or reassembling?

​The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), to the degree that they are participating in the project to remove or replace the bridge, will typically provide preservation assistance to the buyer. The FHWA will typically reimburse the buyer for some portion of costs associated with lifting, dismantling and/or moving the bridge. Costs associated with rehabilitation and reassembly are the responsibility of the buyer; however, for bridges that will be available to the public, such as on rail-trails, the buyer may be able to apply for additional assistance through programs such as the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program. This program is highly competitive but most historic bridge adaptive use projects would meet the qualifications to apply.

What does it cost to rehabilitate and move a bridge?

​The answer will vary depending on the size of the bridge, the structural condition of the bridge, the intended future use of the bridge, the distance between present and future locations, and the fees of the hired contractor(s).  A reputable contractor should be able to furnish a realistic estimate that accounts for all costs.

Who is typically involved in the disposition process?
  • PennDOT
  • Pennsylvania Department of General Services (for state owned bridges only)
  • Local owner (for locally owned bridges) which is typically either a county or township
  • Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) (Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission).
  • One or more of the following, selected by the buyer: professional engineer, rehabilitation contractor, moving contractor.
Do these bridges always have to be moved or can I buy a bridge and keep it at its existing location?

​It is dependent upon the plans for the replacement structure. A majority of the time the bridge will need to be relocated because the new bridge will be placed on the same alignment as the historic bridge.

Does the bridge have to stay in Pennsylvania?

​No, the bridge can be moved anywhere, though a preference is given to buyers who intend to keep the bridge in Pennsylvania.

Am I allowed to make changes to the bridge?

​While there are no legal restrictions on future work on the bridge, the new owner is encouraged to be aware of the historic characteristics of the bridge when they make changes. The historic characteristics of the bridge and guidance for historic bridge rehabilitation are provided to the new owner as part of the transfer process. The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office is also available to provide guidance on the appropriateness of work to historic bridges.   For more information contact Tyra Guyton Historic Bridge Marketing Program Coordinator at the SHPO, at 717-346-0617 or tguyton@pa.gov.

What services does PennDOT offer?

​PennDOT will coordinate the disposition process, and potentially provide minor technical services. PennDOT will provide copies of records related to the bridge's condition to the buyer, including inspection reports.

Who can buy these bridges?

​Anyone can buy the bridge as long as they are committed to reusing the bridge. Preference is given to public uses but private property owners are able to acquire these bridges. State-owned bridges are first offered to other state agencies, then regional municipalities; if there is no interest, they are then offered to the highest, best-use bidder. In the past, we’ve placed some of our historic bridges with State Parks, rail-trails, and university campuses.

How do I buy one of these bridges?

The answer depends upon whether the bridge is state owned or locally owned.

For state-owned bridges:

  • State-owned historic bridges follow the disposition process of the PA Department of General Services (DGS) through their Bureau of Supplies and Surplus Operations. In advance of the DGS public offering the bridge will be advertised on PennDOT’s bridge marketing website. Interested parties should send in a letter of interest to PennDOT. PennDOT will provide the letter to DGS who will notify any parties who have expressed an interest in the bridge prior to the public auction.
  • DGS will offer the bridge to the highest bidder willing to ensure that the historic characteristics of the bridge are preserved (i.e. bidders cannot be parties who will sell the bridge for scrap); the auction will be open for a period of not less than 30 days, but will typically be between 60 and 90 days. The bridge is subject to special terms and conditions which are enumerated in the bid documents.
  • If the potential buyer wishes to go forward, the buyer must make a formal offer to purchase the bridge (consistent with the terms and conditions). After acceptance of the offer, the Commonwealth will provide the buyer with a sales contract and with the name of the PennDOT project manager with whom the party will need to work to arrange for removal of the bridge.

For locally owned bridges:

  • The disposition process will vary according to the regulations imposed by that jurisdiction. In many cases a high bid process similar to the state's bid process is required. As with state owned bridges, parties potentially interested in a bridge are requested to provide a letter of interest to the owner (county or municipality) which describes the intended use.  The owner will then coordinate further with the interested party.
When are these bridges available?

​This information is listed underneath the bridge, when known. Certain restrictions may affect the timing of the bridge's availability. In some cases the bridges are available for removal by a buyer at any time because traffic has already been rerouted. In other cases the bridge is not available for removal until the replacement bridge is built; in some cases this can be years after the marketing of the bridge. Utilize the contact information under the bridge for more information regarding estimated dates and potential restrictions.

Where can I find more information about a specific bridge?

​The listed point of contact will be able to furnish additional information, such as information from the most recent bridge inspection and/or studies that may have been conducted on the bridge.

What if none of the bridges you are currently marketing meet my requirements?

​There may be other bridges that are likely to be available.  Contact Tyra Guyton at the SHPO, at 717-346-0617 or tguyton@pa.gov for more information.

What if I have general or further questions about the program?

​Please contact Kara Russell at PennDOT 717-705-1484/ krussell@pa.gov or Tyra Guyton at the SHPO at 717-346-0617/ tguyton@pa.gov.