Head of engineers group hits critics of bridge limits

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The head of a national organization representing more than 5,000 engineering companies has assailed claims that new weight limits on Pennsylvania bridges were a political maneuver by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to get more funding.

Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch announced in August that about 1,000 state and local bridges would receive new weight restrictions, saying he needed to extend their service lives at a time of inadequate funding.

Among those who said the announcement was a political ploy were state Reps. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, and Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township.

“Engineers have an obligation first and foremost to protect the health and safety of the public. The recent action by PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who is a professional engineer, to place restrictions on bridges in need of repair throughout the state is consistent with that obligation. It also reflects the deteriorating state of infrastructure throughout our country,” said David A. Raymond, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, based in Washington, D.C.

“To suggest that Secretary Schoch’s action was motivated by anything other than sound engineering judgment, insults the integrity of engineering professionals who work diligently to safeguard the public every day,” he said in a statement issued this week.

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