Department of Streets Bridge Maintenance Review September 2013


Audit Date: September 18, 2013

Audit Categories

  • Investigation
Controller: Alan Butkovitz

Audit Tags

  • Bridges,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Streets

Executive Summary


For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2013

Contact: Harvey Rice
215-686-6696

Butkovitz Finds Bridges Still in Poor Condition
City Controller’s follow-up review indicates there is no database
for tracking & managing resources for bridge repairs

Streets Department – Bridge Maintenance Review

(View Video Below)

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released a follow up review of the Department of Streets’ Bridge Maintenance Unit that found several structurally deficit bridges with conditions that still require corrective action.

At the completion of the Controller’s Office’s inspections in the spring, two of the four bridges that were revisited from the 2009 report, the Willow Grove Avenue Bridge and Calumet Street Bridge, had not been repaired as required. Both of these structurally deficient bridges displayed steel beams that were exposed and heavily corroded, along with falling concrete.

“Our inspection team found the conditions of these bridges were worse than what we observed four years ago,” said Butkovitz. “With both of these bridges having been built prior to 1930 and currently structurally deficient, it’s imperative that necessary repairs are made immediately.”

According to Butkovitz’ review, one in every four city-owned bridge is structurally deficient and 90 of the 150 are at least 60-years old. Six city-owned bridges have weight restrictions of five tons or less.

Other conditions found in the follow-up review included mortar and concrete loss and cracking on the Bells Mill Road Bridge, heavy alligator cracking and minor cracking in the floor beams on the Mascher Street Bridge, and damage to concrete supports on the Byberry Road Bridge.

According to Butkovitz, “The Streets Department does not utilize a database or automated system to prioritize and manage all of the required work orders.”

“With limited funds available, it is important for Streets to utilize tools that will make the most efficient use of its resources,” said Butkovitz. “Streets also needs to be more proactive with its maintenance work.”

In addition, the Controller determined the Streets Highway Division does not have an accounting system in place that accurately depicts the amount of money being spent by each of the smaller operating units, such as the Bridge Maintenance Unit.

“Without knowing how much is being spent each year, there’s no way to determine how much is needed for future repairs,” said Butkovitz.

Other findings included the following:
-Bridge work over railroads such as SEPTA, Amtrak and CSX adds millions of dollars and many years to projects due to costs for legal services.
-Some of the bridge files reviewed by the Controller’s staff contained inspection reports that lacked sufficient details to determine whether problem conditions had worsened over time.

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