7 Billion Dollars – The Price Tag to fix New Jersey’s Decaying Bridges.

10 08 2007

TARIQ ZEHAWI / THE RECORD

arrowA NJDOT inspection team taking a closer look at the Pulaski Skyway, which links Newark with Hudson County.

It will cost up to $7 billion to fix hundreds of deteriorating bridges throughout New Jersey, Governor Corzine said Thursday.Findings from an interim report by the state Department of Transportation indicate that 34 percent of the state’s 6,434 bridges are considered “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”

Still, officials said all of New Jersey’s bridges are safe.

Speaking in a parking lot at Exit 15E on the New Jersey Turnpike, officials said eight bridges are high priorities, including the 75-year-old Pulaski Skyway, which could be replaced, Corzine said.

PROBLEM BRIDGES


The state has identified 736 bridges with structural problems in need of repair. Problems include decay, rust, cracks and other defects in the main bridge structures, roadways or support columns.Source: New Jersey Department of Transportation View the list
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Fast facts


Some North Jersey bridges considered structurally deficient in state Transportation Department inspections:• East Rutherford: Route 3 bridge over the Hackensack River and Meadowlands Parkway• Hackensack: Court Street bridge over the Hackensack River

Passaic: Eighth Street bridge over the Passaic River

Lincoln Park: Two Bridges Road bridge over the Pompton River

“While we find [the Skyway] to be safe, it is of course one of many of concern as we try to move forward and try to prepare for the infrastructure of tomorrow,” added Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Corzine last week called on the DOT to prepare a safety status report of bridges in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Seven people have been confirmed dead following the Interstate 35W bridge disaster and six others missing are presumed dead. More than a hundred were injured, many seriously.

The DOT’s Office of the Inspector General has been conducting unscheduled audits and investigations around the state, including seven bridges that have a structure similar to the Minneapolis truss-deck bridge. Among these is the Route 3 overpass in Passaic/Bergen, Corzine said.

A complete report will be available in about a month, said NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

“We will continue to take strong actions, because we believe being proactive is the way to keep New Jersey safe,” Kolluri said. Under federal regulations, the department already inspects its bridges at least twice a year.

Currently, the state spends about $500 million each year on repairing bridges, but the kind of rehabilitation that officials are calling for will require significantly more.

Pulaski Skyway alone will cost $100 million to repair. Officials even discussed the possibility of replacing the bridge, which connects Newark with Hudson County.

“The problem of replacing the bridge is definitely a complex one, but the solution is not,” Kolluri said. “We need money and lots of it. We need a billion dollars to do it.”

Officials said there needs to be aid from Washington.

“We need to be a partner with the federal government, and their resources need to flow,” Corzine said. “I don’t want to get into how the state will come up with these resources, but we will come up with those resources.”

Menendez agreed.

“The question is before the Congress, before the nation, do we wait for a bridge to collapse … or do we act intelligently ahead of the curve so people can ride across bridges knowing that their loved ones will come home at the end of the day?”

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, pledged to work for more federal funding for bridge repairs in a meeting of his transportation advisory committee Thursday.

“The U.S. government will have to spend $188 billion throughout the United States to fix just the bridges,” Pascrell said, citing an American Society of Civil Engineers estimate. “Our bridges are falling down, and we can’t spend on what we need to if we’re filling potholes in Baghdad.”

Menendez and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, both Democrats, also criticized the Bush administration, which they said has not been placing high priority on infrastructure.

President Bush rebuked Congress members who want to increase federal infrastructure spending, even if it means raising taxes, according to news reports Thursday.

“We will not let them take away money from the transportation account,” Lautenberg said. “Every state in the country needs transportation money, and we are not so shy as to not remind them that what goes around comes around.”

Officials also addressed recent reports that there may have been a design flaw in the steel parts that are commonly used in construction of bridges.

“It is imperative that as NTSB does its work, we let them bring it to a conclusion,” Kolluri said. “The most irresponsible thing I think we can do is to sort of take a piece … of the report.”

The Federal Highway Administration on Wednesday urged all states to be careful of load capacity on bridges during construction, but Kolluri said the DOT has already been doing that. The department uses light construction equipment and doesn’t keep raw material on the bridge.

“I’m confident based on the inspection systems we have in place that we will catch the weaknesses as they appear before they become a problem,” Kolluri said.

See original article here.

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One response

14 08 2007
Chanie

Why do they always wait until things are so bad that it costs many times what it would have if the bridges had just been maintained?

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