EAST PIKELAND >> The 151-year-old Hares Hill Road bridge over French Creek was reopened to traffic Monday by PennDOT.
The bridge was closed in June to allow a PennDOT contractor to rehabilitate the wrought iron truss bridge by reconstructing damaged and deteriorated wingwalls; reconstructing stone masonry parapets with reinforced concrete; and installing powder-coated brown guardrails to protect the blunt ends of the parapets.
In addition, the conserved historic plaque on the outside of the southeast wingwall was re-installed and a plaque commemorating this 2018 rehabilitation was also installed.
The single-lane bridge was built in 1867
It is 105 feet long, 14 feet wide, and carries an average of 4,895 vehicles a day.
It is one of nine bridges in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties being repaired under a $7.5 million project.
Other structures completed under this project include:
• Ridge Pike over Perkiomen Creek in Collegeville Borough and Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County
• Morwood Road culvert over a branch of Perkiomen Creek in Franconia Township, Montgomery County;
• Old Forty Foot Road over a branch of Skippack Creek in Lower Salford and Towamencin townships, Montgomery County.
• Baltimore Pike over Darby Creek in Clifton Heights and Lansdowne boroughs and Upper Darby Township, Delaware County;
• State Road/Lansdowne Avenue over Cobbs Creek in Upper Darby Township, Delaware County,
J.D. Eckman Inc., of Atglen, Chester County, is the general contractor on the bridge improvement project, which is financed with 100 percent state funds. Pennsylvania is struggling to close a backlog of long-delayed bridge construction and maintenance projects, perhaps driven by the fact that Pennsylvania is home more than 86,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks — second in the United States only to Alaska.
At 22,779 bridges overall, Pennsylvania has the ninth highest number of bridges in the country.
The average age of bridges on the state system is more than 50 years old, according to PennDOT.
And at 4,173, Pennsylvania currently has the second-highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country, according a report from the American Road and Transportation Building Association released in January.
Over the last 10 years, 2,341 new bridges have been constructed in the state and 2,077 have undergone major reconstruction.
Pennsylvania has identified needed repairs on 13,894 bridges overall, which the state estimates will cost $7.7 billion, according to the report.
But the state has also made great progress in addressing the problem of crumbling bridges.
According to the agency’s numbers through 2017, the state’s number of deficient bridges has been nearly cut in half since 2008, from 6,034 to 3,114 as of Jan. 1., according to a Feb. 11 report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Unfortunately, 200 to 250 bridges are added to the “structurally deficient list” each year, the paper reported.