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Are local bridges up to par?

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 24 2013 10:01:10 PM CDT

Officials say incident like one which occurred in Washington is unlikely here.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The collapse of a bridge in Washington state has brought up the topic of bridge safety throughout the country.

With Pennsylvania ranking third in the nation in the number of bridges, there's certainly more reason for concern.

Pennsylvania ranks first in the number of structurally deficient bridges in the country.

With 25 thousand state owned bridges across the state and with an average age of 50 years old, it's no wonder some people get nervous when it comes to bridge safety.

But, officials say, there's no reason for concern.

"Any bridge that's open with traffic on it is safe," said Penndot spokesman Ron Young, "if it wasn't safe we would close it."

Young said they keep a close eye on bridges that have been deemed structurally deficient which doesn't mean they're unsafe, rather that they have deterioration to one or more of their major components.

But those who use area bridges on a daily basis don't necessarily feel that way.

However those who use area bridges on a daily basis don't necessarily feel that way.

Donovan Jack of Allentown said, "The safety can be a little better than this, the structure, the ground...there's a lot of cracks and you never know when it might give out one day because of rain or corrosion or something like that.."

"Sometimes I feel nervous and unsafe 'cause I know  it's an older bridge," said Robyn Pegram of Allentown.

But Young said it's not really based on age. In fact, the major factors that lead to deterioration are use and weather.

Once a bridge is deemed structural deficient, Young said, crews are vigilant and make any necessary changes.

"They do routine inspections of it...and determine, do we need to put a weight restriction on it? If it already has a weight restriction, do we need to lower that restriction?," according to Young.

Young said what happened in Washington is unlikely to occur here in Pennsylvania because trucks carrying an oversized load receive a special hauling permit, and the system tells drivers what routes their sized vehicle can go on.