Philadelphia Injury Lawyer discusses bridge accident and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s duty to maintain bridges
On May 30, 2013, a piece of concrete, determined to be a part of the decorative façade of the Harrison Avenue bridge, broke away and fell through the windshield of a vehicle. Three people in northeastern Pennsylvania escaped without serious injury. As Kristian Batts was heading to a cookout in Carbondale in her sport-utility vehicle, she and two passengers were driving out of Scranton when a chunk of the Harrison Avenue bridge façade fell through the windshield of her 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe, sending shards into the vehicle. The 91-year-old bridge was examined Thursday night, found to be structurally sound and will remain open. The bridge is set to be replaced by a 3-span steel-plate bridge in 2014.
Faced with more than twice the number of structurally deteriorating bridges than the national average, the state Department of Transportation plans to focus its attention on replacing them as quickly as it can, to prevent any future bridge accident. “The bridges and roads are deteriorating. A lot of them have seen their life,” said Joe Szczur, PennDOT executive. “Our bridges on average are 60 years old. Some are upwards of 100,” Szczur said. “But they were only designed to last 50 years. We have a huge challenge ahead of us to replace deteriorating bridges as quickly as we can.”
The Department of Transportation’s failure to maintain the structural integrity of a bridge, including the façade may create a cause of action against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for property damage and personal injury, if any.