Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission v. Penn Central Company, Township of Logan, City of Altoona, County of Blair, and Department of Highways of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Complaint Docket No. 18724.
Herbert G. Zahn, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, for appellant.
John B. Wilson, Assistant Counsel, with him R. Knickerbocker Smith, Jr., Assistant Counsel, and Philip P. Kalodner, Counsel, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
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On September 5, 1973, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) took an appeal
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to this Court from "Orders" of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which, PennDOT asserts, were entered on August 28 and August 29, 1973. Arguing that actions taken by the PUC on August 28 and 29, 1973, are not appealable orders, PUC moves to quash the appeal for the reason that it is untimely and improperly taken. The facts are as follows.
On May 26, 1969, the PUC instituted a complaint proceedings on its own motion ordering an investigation to determine whether an existing 11-span bridge, known as the Eighth Street-Juniata Bridge, carrying vehicular and pedestrian traffic over and above the Little Juniata River and thirty-three tracts of the Penn Central Transportation Company (Railroad) in Logan Township, Blair County, was dangerous and inadequate, whether corrective measures were required, and who should bear the cost of correction and future maintenance, if needed. Named respondents in this complaint were Penn Central Transportation Company, Township of Logan (Logan), City of Altoona (Altoona), County of Blair (Blair), and Department of Highways (now PennDOT).
The initial hearing on the complaint was held January 6, 1970, at which time testimony was presented to the PUC hearing examiner. On September 14, 1971, the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, on the joint motion of Logan, Altoona, and Blair, declared the Eighth Street Bridge and its connecting roadways to be a "public highway."*fn1 A second hearing was conducted by the PUC on December 7, 1971, to take further evidence on its initial complaint.*fn2 On May 23, 1972, the
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PUC, pursuant to its initial complaint, ordered PennDOT to undertake an in-depth safety inspection of the Eighth Street Bridge and a corridor study thereof.*fn3 No appeal was taken from this order by PennDOT.
On July 27, 1972, the Secretary of Transportation, Jacob G. Kassab, communicated by letter to the Chairman of the PUC, George I. Bloom, requesting the PUC to reconsider the May 23, 1972, order and modify it to provide that one of the other parties engage a consultant to do the required studies. This request was reiterated by a second letter to the Chairman dated October 11, 1972, to which Chairman Bloom responded on October 20, 1972, advising that the PUC would not react to the Secretary's proposal ...