perspective: it takes too long for dangerous bridges to be fixed

A friend of mine took this photo today Pennswood Rd Bridge, Bryn Mawr, PA

This is not a post about Chester County it’s about orphaned and other bridges in need of repair in our area, state, country.

Pennswood Rd Bridge 2007

The bridge in the photo opening this post and throughout this post is the orphaned railroad bridge on Pennswood Road in Bryn Mawr, PA. It’s in Lower Merion Township. This bridge has been falling apart for decades quite honestly. I started photographing it in 2007.

Pennswood Rd Bridge. 2007.

It takes far too long for unsafe and run down bridges to be repaired in this country. I photographed the deterioration of this Pennswood Road bridge between 2007 and 2012. I think I had some other photos once upon a time but I can’t find them.

Pennswood Rd Bridge 2012

This bridge had holes that you could see through to the railroad tracks and rattled like all get out. Underneath this bridge runs Amtrak and SEPTA trains. The bridge is on the orphaned list like many others that were built by railroads and then orphaned – original railroad companies go out of business successor railroads disavow responsibility. I don’t quite understand how it all works but that seems to be how it works.

Pennswood Road Bridge at some point between 2007-2012

What happens is the federal government will pay for most of this repair, the state will pay for some of the repair, and the final bit will be the responsibility of the local municipality. In this case, Lower Merion Township. After the bridge is rebuilt it becomes the responsibility of the municipality.

Pennswood Bridge 2012

I have to give credit here to the local commissioner in Lower Merion (Scott Zelov) who has been at this since he became a commissioner in 2006. It’s absolutely ridiculous that it took so long to get to this point. And the bridge was failing long before he took office. It’s been failing since I was in high school.

This is a definite problem across the country. I have seen programs on news shows that run nationally like network news on orphaned and dangerous bridges. In 2019 Pennsylvania was still on the short list of states with the worst bridges. Our state was number 2 in the country according to the CBS news affiliate in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Post Gazette also covers the topic.

In 2013, Penn Live published an article about bad PA bridges. In 2017 the York Daily Record said PA was number 3 in the country for bad bridges. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the topic in 2018 and many other times. (Click here for some sort of state database.)

Anyway glad this Lower Merion Township bridge is finally getting replaced. I just wish it didn’t have to take so long. Do you have a failing and/or orphaned bridge where you live? What’s being done (if anything)?

Here are two articles about the Pennswood Road Bridge:

Main Line Media News: Bryn Mawr bridge on Pennswood Road to be replaced
Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Dec 13, 2019

Main Line Media News: Work could begin later this year on last orphaned bridge in Lower Merion
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter May 23, 2018 Comments

Pennswood Road Bridge 2012.

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