Economy
5:20 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Pittsburgh-area “Scary” Bridges Target of Spooky Rally on Halloween

"There's two things that really make Hulk mad: unsafe bridges and unemployment!"

Those words were uttered by Bob Glidden, who was dressed as the Incredible Hulk while rallying at the foot of the Birmingham Bridge. He and about a dozen others were calling for state lawmakers to commit to fixing the area's bridges. The rally was staged by Pennsylvania Wants to Work, an organization tackling unemployment in Pittsburgh. Organizers say that fixing the area's deficient bridges would help solve the jobs problem and increase public safety.

"This is not a hypothetical danger," said David Ninehouser, Pittsburgh Coordinator for Pennsylvania Wants to Work. "We've seen across the country, bridges closing, we've seen bridges collapse that have caused loss of life. We're having fun with it because it's Halloween, but it's a very serious issue."

The rally at the south end of the Birmingham Bridge at Carson Street featured participants dressed as a construction worker, a skeleton, and just plain-clothed people calling attention to the "scary" condition of the area's bridges.

A recent report from Transportation for America, a coalition group focused on creating a national transportation program, found that Pennsylvania has 5,906 structurally deficient bridges, more than any other state. 331 of those bridges are in Allegheny County, which has the highest number of bridges in the state.

Fixing the area's bridges, said rally organizers, would put unemployed or underemployed people back to work.

"They're trained, they have the skills, they're ready to go back to work. We're talking about a ripple effect. We're talking about folks who are getting money in their pockets, construction workers who are fixing bridges, and then spending that money in the communities and helping small business," said Ninehouser.

Birmingham Bridge has been deemed structurally deficient, along with the Greenfield Street Bridge and the Center Avenue Bridge, which collectively carry more than 29,000 cars each day.