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The engineers strike back: say bridge weight limits not political

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The announcement by PennDOT that 1,000 state bridges would be posted with weight limits to extend their service life because of a lack of funding to rehabilitate them has been labeled by some as a pressure tactic to force the state House to get moving on a transportation funding bill.

A “political stunt,” Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said in August.

“Why are they posting all of these bridges now? It smells of politics,” said Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township.

Now the head of the American Council of Engineering Companies fires back. Here is the statement by David A. Raymond, president and CEO:

“Engineers have an obligation first and foremost to protect the health and safety of the public. The recent action by PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who is a professional engineer, to place restrictions on bridges in need of repair throughout the state is consistent with that obligation. It also reflects the deteriorating state of infrastructure throughout our country. To suggest that Secretary Schoch’s action was motivated by anything other than sound engineering judgment, insults the integrity of engineering professionals who work diligently to safeguard the public every day.”

Postscript: The Roundabout is amused when politicians, who play politics on a daily basis, denounce others for playing politics, as though it’s a bad thing. And pandering to people who demand good transportation infrastructure but don’t want to pay for it? Smells of politics.

Postscript two: Posting of the Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh, the biggest affected span in the region, has been completed. The limit is 30 tons for double-axle vehicles and 40 tons for combination vehicles.

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Repair work will cause traffic restrictions on the Hulton Bridge between Harmar and Oakmont on Friday and on Monday through Wednesday. Alternating one-way traffic will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with police and flaggers directing vehicles. Drivers should expect delays. Preliminary work has begun on a $65 million new Hulton Bridge, which will be built parallel to the existing span, with completion expected by October 2015.

PennDOT announced this afternoon that it has begun pavement patching on Route 19 in McCandless. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays through next Thursday between Ingomar Road and Sewickley-Oakmont Road.

Grant Street will be closed between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Downtown Pittsburgh from 4 p.m. Saturday to 11 p.m. Sunday for construction. Traffic will jog over to Ross Street.

A new bridge on Route 910 over the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Indiana Township will open Friday afternoon. The bridge, near Blue Run Road, is one of six being replaced to make way for a reconstruction and widening project on the turnpike between Butler Valley and Allegheny Valley.

Inspection of the bridge that carries the Parkway East over Swinburne and Frazier streets in Greenfield will cause periodic right-lane closures in both directions from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

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