County Commended For Taking Advantage of 'Road MaP' Partnership
Harrisburg, PA – A local bridge improvement program announced as part of the Wolf Administration's Road Maintenance and Preservation, or Road MaP, initiative will make possible a partnership to rehabilitate a bridge in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards said today.
"The reality is counties face an even tougher challenge than the state in tackling significant maintenance backlogs on bridges," Richards said. "We are using the new Road MaP program to help counties address this critical need and I commend Cumberland County and the Harrisburg Area Transportation Study (HATS) for recognizing and acting on these needed improvements."
HATS today added a $2.5 million project to its Transportation Improvement Plan that will rehabilitate the Kunkle Bridge that carries Petersburg Road over the Yellow Breeches Creek in South Middletown Township. PennDOT is allocating $2 million in federal funds toward construction. The 114-year-old bridge makes an important north-south connection in the township, but has a 14-ton limit for single vehicles and 20-ton limit for combination vehicles.
Through Road MaP, PennDOT is making opportunities available for counties who have taken steps to enhance their transportation networks by collecting the $5 vehicle registration fee enabled by Act 89 of 2013, the state transportation plan. Chester, Montgomery, Berks, Schuylkill, Bucks, and York counties are also leveraging the partnership for bridge projects in their counties.
The partnership makes available up to $2 million for each county that has passed a fee resolution, with a 50-percent local match commitment required to secure the program funding.
Kunkle Bridge is one bridge that is part of the Cumberland County's Bridge Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that details over $14 million of bridge replacement or repair projects over a six-year period. The CIP includes repair or replacement projects to the entire stock of 28 county-owned bridges. The primary funding source for the plan is the $5 per vehicle registration fee that the county approved in early 2015.
Cumberland County was the first county in the Commonwealth to approve the fee. These fees will generate approximately $1.1 million a year and allow the county to address critical bridge needs without increasing taxes. To generate this level of revenue without the $5 registration fee, a 2.5 percent property tax increase each year for the next six years would have been needed.
"The $5 local use fee is the backbone of Cumberland County's bridge capital improvement plan," said County Commission Chairman Vince DiFilippo and Commissioners Jim Hertzler and Gary Eichelberger. "The fee enables the county to proactively address our bridge needs while avoiding the load postings and closures that impede the mobility of our residents and businesses. The Road MaP incentive funds allow us to fast track the Kunkle Bridge replacement and complete it in advance of our original schedule."
"Our local bridges account for the highest percentage of our region's structurally deficient structures," said HATS Planner Casey Baxendale. "While our bridge conditions have improved over recent years, we are proud to see another structurally deficient bridge come off a list that seems to be endlessly growing. Our local bridges are essential to our region's connectivity and the Road MaP initiative opens up new doors to maintain them and extend their lifetime."
This component of Road MaP is aimed at addressing the needs of Pennsylvania's 6,477 locally owned bridges, of which 2,038 – or more than 31 percent – are structurally deficient. The need to improve local bridges was underscored when the biennial Transportation Performance Report, assembled by PennDOT, the State Transportation Commission, and the Transportation Advisory Committee and viewable at www.TalkPATransportation.com, identified local bridges as the only category receiving a "low" performance rating.
Since 2008, PennDOT has cut the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state system from a high of 6,034 to 3,280, which is 13 percent of the total number of bridges statewide, as of October.
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