Bridge fencing safety bill signed into law

Legislation to address protective fencing on bridges over highways has become law in the state.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock, the bill’s chief sponsor, said it will enhance safety of the transportation infrastructure and help further protect pedestrians and motorists.

“I’m grateful for my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Wolf for supporting this measure. It is my hope that this new law will prevent future tragedies from occurring,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that the bill came at the request of Randy Budd, husband of Sharon Budd of Uniontown, Ohio, who was struck in the face by a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County in 2014.

“It’s been several years in the making,” he said. “I’m glad we got something done.”

The legislation mirrors a bill passed by the Ohio Legislature.

Yaw said it’s unknown precisely when the law goes into effect.

Act 65 authorizes the state Department of Transportation to include protective fencing for new bridges and on those under major renovations over interstate highways. The bill was amended in the House to include fencing on bridges where suicides or attempted suicides occurred.

Yaw said the bill was the result of a long process and included consultations with the Budd family.

Sharon Budd, a former schoolteacher, sustained serious injuries, including the loss of sight in one eye and permanent brain damage.

Yaw noted he was in communication with Randy Budd shortly before he committed suicide in August 2016.

Four teenagers were convicted and sentenced to jail in the rock-throwing incident for sentences ranging from 11 1/2 months to 4 1/2 years.