By Erin Boehm
for The Pennsylvania Independent
HARRISBURG PA – A Pennsylvania Department of Transportation decision to place new weight restrictions on about 1,000 bridges will have little effect on the average motorist, but some industries will feel pain, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported Thursday. (Aug. 22, 2013).
Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch announced the new bridge weight limits during a news conference Thursday as state lawmakers continued to discuss passage of a $2-billion transportation infrastructure package funded by increased taxes and fees.
Schoch said the move was made necessary by the age of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and the state General Assembly’s inaction on road and bridge funding. Opponents of additional spending said the maneuver was nothing more than a political stunt, according to The Independent.
It will take several months for PennDOT to officially post the restrictions on all affected bridges, though a full list is now available online. About half of the bridges on the list already have some sort of weight restriction, but the other half will be restricted for the for first time, Schoch said.
For now, the 1,000 new weight restrictions will be divided nearly evenly between state-owned bridges and those owned by local governments. No interstate highway bridges are on the list.
- West King Street in Pottstown crossing Manatawny Creek,
- Grosstown Road in Stowe crossing Manatawny Creek,
- Old Forty Foot Road in Harleysville crossing Skippack Creek,
- Township Line Road in Norristown crossing Stony Creek,
- Graterford Road in Graterford crossing Perkiomen Creek, and
- New Hanover Square Road in New Hanover crossing Swamp Creek.
Find a full list of problematic bridges in Montgomery County – state, local, and privately owned – at UglyBridges.com, here.
A bridge with no weight restrictions in Pennsylvania can handle more than 40 tons — about the weight of a fully-loaded tractor trailer. Schoch said some bridges will see weight limits lowered by as much as 20 percent, which cuts a 40-ton bridge down to 32 tons. Some industries, particularly those that rely on tractor trailers and other heavy vehicles, may feel direct consequences.
“The impact for an average motorist is going to be negligible,” Schoch said, because weight restrictions will affect only heavier vehicles. “What they will see is, in certain areas, increased congestion because of trucks changing routes,” he added.
Paul Lyskava, executive director of the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association, which represents logging companies that employ some 60,000 Pennsylvanians, said weight restrictions on bridges in the rural parts of the state could create costly detours.
Lyskava said he wants to see a transportation funding bill passed by the Assembly. Not everyone there agrees.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee and one of the leaders of the anti-tax faction in the state House, said “people need to be asking if Pennsylvania isn’t already taking enough money out of the taxpayers’ pockets.” The department should try to re-purpose existing spending before using events like Thursday’s announcement to build support for tax increases, he claimed.
- Read a story by reporter Eric Boehm, titled “Industries will be hit by PennDOT’s new weight restrictions” and published Thursday by The Independent, here.
- View an Adobe Acrobat copy of the weight restrictions presentation offered Thursday by Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch, here.
Related (to deteriorating bridges):
- Local Senator Ups State Transportation Ante By A Billion
- Fuels Lobby Expert Says PA Gas Tax Could Be Highest
- Senate GOP Plans Bill To Raise Highway Fix-Up Fees
- Report: Six Bridges In Township ‘Structurally Deficient’
- Engineers Claim PA Roads Worse Now Than In 2006
Photo from Panoramio
Thanks to Fred Remelius for documentation