Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the state Department of Transportation plans to fix more locally owned bridges and improve more than 1,100 miles of rural and low-volume roadway through multiyear investments.
The department said it is implementing five-year investment programs to carry out the local infrastructure projects. They include a Rural Commercial Routes program that will improve low-volume roads through industry partnerships and with cost-effective treatments like paving with recycled asphalt. It will also rehabilitate or replace at least 85 municipally owned bridges over five years.
"These investments build on the Road Maintenance and Preservation Program that we started last year to increase effort on not only major routes, but also lower traffic roadways across the state," Wolf said. "We will leverage partnerships with local governments and private industry to bring targeted and much-needed improvements."
PennDOT said the Rural Commercial Routes program will invest $200 million over five years on roads that average traffic of fewer than 3,000 vehicles daily. "More than 360 miles will be improved in 2018-19 alone," it said, "including roadways posted with weight restrictions as well as an estimated 260 miles to be improved with lower-cost pavement treatments."
The program will also expand cost-sharing partnerships with industries to improve roads that were not originally designed to handle heavy vehicles, many of which are now posted with weight restrictions.
Examples of industries that have previously taken part in the 50-percent, cost-sharing partnership include timber, aggregate haulers, unconventional oil and gas and natural gas, and more, PennDOT said.
"Many businesses rely on our rural roadways to transport their products," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards. "These investments will improve travel not only for these industries, but also residents."
The administration is also expanding its focus on locally owned bridges by rehabilitating or replacing 85 to 100 bridges over five years. That $50 million program, the announcement said, will add bridges to the department's 12-year transportation program, requires no local match and will bundle bridge projects where feasible.
PennDOT said that 30.7 percent of the more than 6,500 locally owned bridges are structurally deficient, compared with 12.2 percent on the state system.
"We commend the local government officials who have made investments in their communities' infrastructure," Richards said. "This program will underscore our commitment to helping our local partners in our shared mission of safe, efficient travel."
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