PA ID# 000-92003; Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation
DSR ID# 88119; Eastern Walnut Street Bridge
Citation: Second Appeal by Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) for $1.7 million additional funding to cover reimbursement of the costs of reinforced concrete jackets around the stone piers of the historic Eastern Walnut Street Bridge.
Summary: PennDOT claims that the failure of two bridge piers on the Western Bridge of the bridge (a separate bridge from the Eastern Bridge) is evidence that the piers on the Eastern Bridge have suffered hidden damage. PennDOT claims that this can only be corrected by wrapping the original stone piers in reinforced concrete jackets. Based on the recommendation of PennDOT's consulting engineers, the stone piers were encased in reinforced concrete jackets. Construction has been completed. PennDOT requests an additional $1,793,785 for the work.
Issues: Can FEMA eligibility for structural upgrade work be justified on the basis of a claim that a potential for hidden damage exists when there is no physical evidence that actual damages are sufficient to justify such upgrade work? Is potential hidden damage identified as "core cracking" of significant concern when dealing with these particular unreinforced masonry piers?
Findings: The PennDOT claim that hidden damage must exist is found to be indefensible based on the scientific characteristics of unreinforced masonry piers with rubble masonry cores in general, and the lack of verifiable evidence that any of the subject piers had been structurally compromised to such an extent that they cannot be repaired only by grouting and repointing. The FEMA findings are that: (1) There is no evidence that the flood-related damage to the piers cannot be repaired by repointing and grouting of the unreinforced masonry. (2) There is no scientific basis for the claim that the failure of two piers on the Western Bridge is relevant to the claim for the cost of the concrete jackets. (3) Damage from deferred maintenance alone is not eligible. (4) Hypothetical damage that has not been documented or verified to exist is not eligible. The appeal is denied.
Rationale: FEMA Public Assistance funding is for verified actual disaster damage repair. Structural upgrading or replacement of an element done as a consequence of an assessment of the total damage to an element from age and lack of maintenance AND the impact of a particular disaster is not eligible when the repair of the disaster damage alone would not require such measures.