This bridge is a beautiful concrete arch bridge with a large open spandrel main span flanked by a single closed spandrel arch at each end. The bridge's piers once had pillars that rose above the deck for decorative purpose but those were removed in years past. Despite alteration above the deck, the arch below the deck retains its original design and is handsomely composed, a very attractive structure.
Unfortunately PennDOT will be demolishing and replacing this historic bridge. The Harrison Avenue Bridge is a victim of the typical process for managing bridges in the United States. It is a simple linear multi-step process, and the same process is followed for historic bridges. The process is as follows:
1. Defer routine, low-cost maintenance of the bridge.
2. Defer larger, but still cost-effective opportunities to repair and rehabilitate the bridge.
3. As bridge deteriorates due to lack of maintenance and rehabilitation, wait for the deterioration to advance to the point where the Bridge Sufficiency Rating drops below 50%, so that the bridge can qualify for federal demolition and replacement funding.
4. Seek a federal grant to fund the extremely costly demolition and replacement of the bridge.
5. If the bridge is historic, conduct Section 106, required by federal law to consider alternatives that avoid adverse effect to the historic bridge like demolition. If possible, find an engineering consultant that has absolutely no experience in successfully rehabilitating historic bridges and have them conduct a rehabilitation feasibility analysis that finds that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to demolishing the historic bridge. Also consider confusing and misleading the public by describing the project as a "replacement" project during public information meetings, even before Section 106 has actually determined that replacement is the only feasible and prudent alternative.
6. Demolish and replace bridge.
This process that is followed in the United States largely seems to arise from how the federal government provides money to states for bridge projects, using the below 50% sufficiency rule which essentially encourages states to let their bridges deteriorate so they can get a bunch of "free" tax money from the federal government. Bridges above 50% only qualify for rehabilitation funds, and additionally the amount of funds available for rehabilitation may be limited. Additionally, there is generally no assistance from the federal government to help states conduct routine maintenance and repair of bridges. This being the case, the states often find the best solution is to let the bridges rot, and then go for the big replacement grant from the federal government.
What is the cost of this problem? Tax dollars are being wasted in great qualities. Worse, beautiful, unique historic bridges that might have at one time been feasible and cost-effective to preserve are being demolished and replaced with ugly, mundane bridges that offer a community no sense of identity. The Harrison Avenue Bridge is a perfect example.
The intent of the federal government may have been good, which is to prioritize funding of those bridges that have the worst problems. However, they have gone about it the wrong way. States should be rewarded for choosing to maintain their existing bridges. More federal money for this purpose should be available. Additionally, if the percentage that the state has to pay for these matching grants (often 80% federal and 20% state/local) bridge were set so that the state paid a far higher percentage for a replacement project, they would have incentive to avoid having to replace a bridge. Perhaps replacement projects could be set to 70% federal government and 30% state/local share, while rehabilitation projects could be 80% federal and 20% state/local, and funding for maintenance of bridges could be provided at a 90% federal and 10% state/local share.
Original / Full Size Photos
|A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
Mobile Optimized Photos
|A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
View Bridge Location In:
© Copyright 2003-2020, HistoricBridges.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer: HistoricBridges.org is a volunteer group of private citizens. HistoricBridges.org is NOT a government agency, does not represent or work with any governmental agencies, nor is it in any way associated with any government agency or any non-profit organization. While we strive for accuracy in our factual content, HistoricBridges.org offers no guarantee of accuracy. Information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Information could include technical inaccuracies or errors of omission. Opinions and commentary are the opinions of the respective HistoricBridges.org member who made them and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone else, including any outside photographers whose images may appear on the page in which the commentary appears. HistoricBridges.org does not bear any responsibility for any consequences resulting from the use of this or any other HistoricBridges.org information. Owners and users of bridges have the responsibility of correctly following all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, regardless of any HistoricBridges.org information.