City Councilman Wants Streets Department Crackdown On ‘Orphaned Bridges’

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A city councilman says Philadelphia has many bridges and overpasses that are not owned by the city and are in dangerous condition. He now wants to update the Home Rule Charter to give the Streets Department more power to deal with the issue.

Councilman-at-large David Oh is worried about what he calls “orphaned bridges.”

“For example, overpasses that are abandoned basically by the rail lines, and they are dropping debris and other things onto the roads,” he says. “They’re not fixing them and we cannot seem to compel them do that.”

And then, he says, there are bridges and overpasses near the city’s borders that no one wants to claim:

“The other county doesn’t own them, the state doesn’t own them, the city doesn’t own them. But people use them and unfortunately they’re in disrepair.”

So Oh is proposing a ballot referendum this November, asking voters to revise the City Charter to give more powers to the Streets Department to grapple with the orphaned bridges. Part of that, he says, would be the ability to compel the rightful bridge owners to own up:

“To try to compel them to either contribute or repair those bridges and roads.”

Or, the Streets Department could perform the repairs itself and then place liens on the owner for restitution.

Oh acknowledges that the idea faces a number of legal issues, including questions of jurisdiction. He expects to work out revisions of proposal in consultation with the city’s Law Department before it goes to Council and then ultimately to voters.

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