Bridge Capital Improvement Program
Cumberland County owns and maintains 19 bridges and shares joint ownership and maintenance responsibilities with York County for an additional 9 bridges of varying type, size and age. The County closely monitors the condition of these bridges through mandated inspections. As these bridges require repairs or replacement, many factors go into determining a timeline for the work. To date, 17 of these bridges are structurally deficient. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) outlines nearly $15 million of bridge maintenance and replacement projects over the next 6 years. Federal and State funds are an important part of the County's bridge program. When Federal and State funding is approved for a project, the County will only need to incur 5% of the project cost. While State and Federal funds are desirable to keep the County's cost to a minimum, they come with administrative and regulatory requirements that must be closely followed. Federal and State funded projects may take six to twelve months longer than similar projects funded entirely with local funds.
The County has more bridges than it has funding and therefore must focus limited resources on the highest priority bridges. While the County wants to address every bridge need as soon as possible, funding constraints require that some projects are deferred while others are completed. This sometimes leads to extended closures of bridges that are structurally deficient but lack funding to address the need.
The average age of the County owned bridges is 78 years old with 11 bridges that are over 100 years old. Nineteen of the bridges are functionally obsolete (meaning that their curb-to-curb widths and traffic safety features, guide rail, barriers, etc. are substandard by current design and construction standards) and 17 bridges are structurally deficient, meaning one or more of the bridges support components contain significant deterioration. Bridge replacement/repair is prioritized based upon their respective state of condition (structural condition, estimated remaining lifespan, and load postings) and function in the community (width, daily traffic and detour length).
The normal life expectancy of a bridge is 75 to 100 years. With an average age of 78 years old, the Cumberland County bridge stock as a wholes is nearing the end of its useful lifespan. As bridges age, they require more frequent and more costly repairs. Often times the investment to repair a bridge is neither practical nor a prudent use of the County's limited funding, and therefore the bridge remains closed until it can be replaced. This concept is easily compared to car shopping. Why spend thousands of dollars to fix an old car, when a newer car will cost the same amount but be safer and require less maintenance.
|Revenue Source||Projected Annual Revenue||Description|
|Act-13 Marcellus Shale Bridge||$300,000||State funds given to every county from Marcellus Shale gas fee revenues|
|Liquid Fuels Funds||$300,000||State funds given to every county derived from tax on sale of gasoline and other liquid fuels|
|Act 44- Local Bridge Funds||$70,000||State funds allocated to every county based upon established formula that considers deck area of bridges owned by a county|
|Annual Total Prior to $5 Fee||670,000||Total prior to 2015|
|Act 26 Fund||$99,000||
State funds allocated to every county based upon established formula that considers deck area of bridges owned by a county
|Act 89- $5 Registration Fee||$1,100,000||County fee on vehicle registration enacted by Cumberland County in 2015|
|Total||$1,869,000||Projected total moving forward from 2015|
|*This funding is all that the County receives to repair, maintain and replace our 28 bridges. As an example the Orrs Bridge project is a $4.5 million project. Without the $5 vehicle registration fee, more bridges would be closed and weight posted for longer periods of time while the County saved the funding for required projects.|
- ...It's a historic bridge? The National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 requires that the County conduct detailed analysis to document the infeasibility of rehabilitating a bridge to meet the County's modern day transportation needs, including a plan to mitigate the loss of the historic resource if it cannot be rehabilitated. This analysis can take anywhere from six months to three years and must include coordination with all interested stakeholders in the County, State and nationwide. This can greatly impact and delay the timeline for bridge projects.
- ...the project impacts plants & animals? The Endangered Species Act requires projects using State and Federal funds to identify the presence or absence of endangered species in the study area and develop a plan for avoiding or mitigating the impacts of the project to those plants and animal species. Threatened and endangered species evaluation can add one to three years to a project schedule depending upon the type and presence of species involved.
- ...the project impacts landowners? Bridge projects can often result in newly-aligned roads or widened structures that require additional land from surrounding properties. When bridge projects require right-of-way acquisition, a meticulous process must be followed to work with landowners to secure the needed land at an appropriate amount. The process can take anywhere from three months to two years depending on the complexity of the project, amount of land needed and property owner coordination.
Q: Why are the bridges in poor condition, don't you maintain them?
A: Bridge maintenance and replacement projects are expensive and complicated. Prior to recent infusions of funding, Cumberland County received approximately $330,000 to maintain and replace its bridge stock. That low amount of funding precluded any major replacement projects and required the County to complete only the highest priority maintenance projects. The age of the County's bridge stock coupled with limited finical resources has lead to many of our bridges needing replaced or repaired at the same time. While we have seen recent funding increases the project needs still outpaces funding.
Q: I never use these bridges, why should I have to pay the $5 vehicle registration fee?
A: County owned bridges are local components of the broader transportation system that connects a wide array of users to necessary goods and services. While you personally may not use a certain county-owned bridge, others depend upon that same bridge to service your needs. A dairy farmer may depend upon a county owned bridge that you do not use to transport milk that you consume. Families living close to a county bridge expect that bridge to carry emergency services vehicles just as you rely on the transportation infrastructure near your home to protect the safety of your family.
Q: Why does it take so long when replacing or repairing a bridge?
A: If you've clicked through the tabs above, you should have a pretty good answer to this question. Despite our best efforts, bridge projects are rather complex. It is always our goal to complete each project to the highest quality standards as quickly as possible. Some projects may be completed in as little as 18 months while more complex projects may take 3-5 years.
Q: The bridge I travel over looks fine, why are you repairing/replacing it?
A: While some bridges may appear to be structurally sound, there can be serious deterioration to components of the bridge that are not easily visible to the untrained eye. Cumberland County works closely with specialized engineers that inspect our bridges on a mandated annual or biannual basis.
Q: Why did you close my bridge?
A: Cumberland County closes bridges only as a last resort when the condition of the bridge poses a clear and present threat to the safety of the traveling public. While some bridges are closed for short periods of time for quick repairs, others may be closed for long duration while funding is secured for its repair or replacement. Repair or replacement of any bridge must be considered in the context of competing priorities of other bridge projects and the limited financial resources available to the County.