The Hulton Bridge

Yesterday I read an article about the Greenfield Bridge and the upcoming replacement project.  The piece states "PennDOT records show the bridge has a sufficiency rating of 47.4 out of a best possible 100, ranking it 88th worst among almost 400 locally owned bridges in Allegheny County."

Okay, so the Greenfield Bridge is in the top 25% of shittiest bridges in Allegheny County.  I will agree to that and I am sure that anyone that has traveled under it would probably say it should have an even higher rating on the shitty meter.  I don't really travel over or under it on a regular basis, with the exception of a weekly bicycle ride that I participate in throughout the summer.  The ride routinely crosses the Greenfield Bridge and I enjoy how it connects Greenfield to Schenley Park.

As I was reading this and thinking about the Greenfield Bridge and my travels over it, I started to think about the bridge I cross on a daily basis and most days I cross it twice.  The bridge I speak of is the Hulton Bridge, which crosses the Allegheny River connecting Oakmont and Harmar, and is part of the Yellow Belt.

As a resident of Oakmont I have heard that a new bridge is going to be constructed and that construction is scheduled to begin this summer and wrap up sometime in 2015.  The method of construction that will be utilized will enable the current traffic to continue to cross the Hulton Bridge until the new structure is ready to open.  This means I will be crossing this bridge for another two years.

So you ask....what's the big deal.  Well, there wasn't a big deal until I started digging into the safety of this bridge.  The figures I found for the Hulton Bridge is that is has a sufficiency rating of 6.3 out of 100.  Yep, that's not a typo!!!  If a 47.4 has a ranking of 88th worst, I can only imagine what the ranking for the Hulton Bridge would be.  I am guessing it is in the top 10 or at least the top 20.

Now I understand why there are regular inspections on this bridge.  It seems like once a month, maybe more often a bridge inspection occurs.  It looks like they are making sure it won't fall into the Allegheny River with me on it.  Either way, that doesn't give me much comfort knowing that a new structure won't be ready for another two years.  A little quick math tells me I have somewhere around 1400 crossings left to make.  Hopefully it will hold up or maybe I will start avoiding this bridge when possible.

Enough about the safety of the bridge.  If you would like to learn more history or facts about the Hulton Bridge I have listed some links below.  Enjoy.

The National Bridge Inventory Database entry for Hulton Bridge
Hulton Bridge from Wikipedia
Pittsburgh Bridges entry for Hulton Bridge
Historic Bridges entry for Hulton Bridge

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