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PSATS: Bridge Weight Restrictions Due to Lack of Funding

Thursday August 22nd, 2013

Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch has authorized the posting of increased weight restrictions on more than 1,000 bridges statewide – approximately 530 state-owned bridges and 470 locally owned bridges. To see the lists of bridges, visit www.dot.state.pa.us and click on “Bridge Information” on the right side of the screen.

PSATS Executive Director David Sanko made the following statement in response to Schoch's announcement:

“Today’s announcement of bridge weight restrictions should come as no surprise to anyone. The absence of passage of a comprehensive transportation funding package like Senate Bill 1 is what has caused this safety precaution. Safety is of paramount concern on all our bridges but is even more important as we are about to see school bus traffic commence for the new school year. 

“Delayed response times by emergency responders (fire, police, or EMS) may be another byproduct of Harrisburg’s inaction. We applaud all those who are aggressively working to solve this problem, today and for future generations. PSATS and its members again encourage the legislature to properly fund Pennsylvania’s comprehensive transportation network, including local roads and bridges, to provide a safe and timely traveling experience for the general public.”  

'Investing limited resources'

Schoch said that posting bridges with weight restrictions minimizes the wear and tear, which will help keep the structures open and safer for a longer period of time. "This will also allow us to continue to invest our limited resources into higher-priority bridges," he added.

Pennsylvania has the third-largest number of bridges in the nation, but the average bridge age is 51. Schoch noted that the commonwealth also leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as structurally deficient.

"To this point, Pennsylvania has been one of the most liberal with posting criteria compared to other states, all within national standards," he said. "For comparison, if we used Connecticut’s more stringent criteria, more than 11,000 weight restrictions would exist in Pennsylvania. Also, Pennsylvania currently ranks 35th in the nation for the number of structurally deficient bridges that are posted or closed. As we move to this more conservative posting method we will rank 27th.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority, and if a bridge is found to be unsafe, it's closed. If a bridge can only carry certain loads, it's restricted or posted."

Schoch added that PennDOT will work to educate the public and stakeholders about the posting of bridges and detours to ensure continued mobility throughout the state.
 
If you have questions on specific bridges in your region, please contact the applicable PennDOT District Executive.