County seeks grant for bridge rehabilitation projects

Centre County senior transportation planner Mike Bloom presented the board of commissioners on Thursday with a plan to replace structurally deficient bridges on Lower Coleville Road in Spring Township, Front Street in Curtin Township and Fox Gap Road in Miles Township.

The three-bridge rehabilitation package will cost about $1.7 million, Bloom said. The project is contingent upon receiving just more than $1 million in grant money through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

If the full amount of grant money is awarded, the county will be responsible for contributing about $500,000 toward the project. Bloom said the money will come from the county’s Act 13 reserves.

Act 13 was signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2012. The legislation imposes a fee on natural gas wells and distributes the money to local and state government agencies. Centre County receives about $200,000 annually in Act 13 funds and has about $900,000 of available funds. If Act 13 money is used on a bridge project, the work completed must remove structurally deficient designation, Bloom said.

In February, the Federal Highway Administration released data that ranked Pennsylvania as second in the nation, behind Iowa, with just more than 4,500 bridges classified as structurally deficient. Centre County has 50 structurally deficient bridges, according to the FHA.

A bridge is considered structurally deficient if one or more of the elements, such as the deck, super-structure or substructure, are deemed to be in poor condition by a licensed bridge inspector. The bridge can still be used, but it is closely monitored by the state.

Of the three bridges included in the project, the Lower Coleville Road bridge in Spring Township is in the most serious condition, Bloom said. The bridge is on a six-month inspection cycle and has a weight restriction of 19 tons.

“There is no guarantee that we will get the funding to advance these projects, as the grant program is very competitive,” Bloom said. “A lot depends on what other projects are submitted from across the state for this round.”

The grant application is due by July 31, and the county expects awards to be distributed in the fall.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi