Despite cold conditions, PennDOT bridge inspections must go on

Bridge inspectors must be outside no matter the weather

DAMASCUS TOWNSHIP, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - In this week's frigid cold, some people have no choice but to work outside and that includes many PennDOT workers.

Rich Dwyer and Steve Kofira are PennDOT workers who don't get the luxury to sit behind a desk in the winter and they don't drive a plow truck either.

No matter how low the temperature goes, this team is out everyday inspecting bridges in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"In the cold you wish for warm and when it's hot you wish for cold," PennDOT bridge inspector Rich Dwyer said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Eyewitness News found the pair making sure a bridge on River Road in the Damascus-area of Wayne County was structurally okay.

"We've closed bridges in the winter. Yeah, they've found different problems and there's no real option that you can repair," PennDOT senior engineer Steve Kofira said.

After days of temperatures hovering just above zero, many creeks, streams and rivers are starting to freeze.

Ice can do a lot of damage so it's important for inspectors to brave the elements too.

"When ice freezes, obviously it expands so it can move rocks, move abutments, it can cause things to fall and collapse so it's real important that we keep on our schedule," Dwyer said.

The reason the work has to go on, no matter the weather, is because PennDOT's District 4 (Lackawanna, Wayne, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Pike and Luzerne Counties) have more than 2,000 bridges that need to be inspected every two years.

Besides trying to stay warm, another big challenge the inspectors face is just getting under the bridges with all the snow and ice on the ground.

While they take it slow, the PennDOT workers say everyone ends up in the water at some point. 

It just comes with the job.

"Sooner or later, you do this, you're going to go through whether it's up to your waist or up to your foot. You're going to go in a little bit," Kofira said.

Besides wearing layers of clothing, the bridge inspectors say ice protectors for their shoes may be the most important piece of equipment they have.

 


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