Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maintaining Highway Infrastructure

The I 80 was built when I was in college. One of my fellow students had summer job with the then PennDOT. Then PennDOT was a backwater of political favoritism extending to the precinct level. In 1967 few of the positions in the organization were subject to the Civil Service Commission. So, my fellow student was an "inspector."  This anthropology major had his summer employment via his family political connections. He lived at Grove City, PA. He was assigned to report upon the progress of the painting of the nearby bridge being built across the Allegheny River at Emlenton, PA. The bridge is the highest structure on Interstate 80. From a civilian and defense logistics standpoint, the Emlenton bridge was and is strategic. Typical of the old PennDOT , he was sent out with no tools to inspect. There was no crew or equipment to assist access from the top. His compliance with the task at hand was to use binoculars to inspect from the Allegheny River valley floor. He made his inspection and filed his report. This was 1967. The bridge opened in 1968.

This would be as good a place as any to inspect the bridge:

The bridge is 270 feet above the Allegheny River, roughly the equivalent height of a 27 story building. Parts of it are in Venango, Clarion and Butler Counties:

The Emlenton bridge is a truss design supporting a deck above the truss superstructure. 
The I35 bridge at Minneapolis until 2007 was a truss design supporting a deck above the truss superstructure. The bridge opened in 1967.

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