Pennsylvania DOT Secretary Barry Schoch has authorized his department to add or increase weight restrictions to about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges.
He says the department must take this step because of legislative inaction this past June on transportation funding, leaving the department's future resources in question. Reducing the weight traveling on these bridges will slow down their deterioration and preserve safety while funding for their repairs remains uncertain.
Schoch's authorization applies weight restrictions to 530 state-owned and about 470 locally-owned bridges.
The department says it waited longer to place weight restrictions on bridges because of anticipated funding that allowed bridge repairs to be scheduled, but with declining revenues and a well-documented funding need, the department is changing how it applies the national standard to weight restrict bridges earlier in their deterioration stages.
National bridge weight-limit posting criteria allow restrictions to be applied anywhere from when a bridge’s ability to handle more than 80,000 pounds begins to decline, down to when a bridge has lost half of this ability.
The Pennsylvania DOT says the state currently leads the nation in the number of structurally bridges with 4,479. It ranks 35th in the nation with the percent of these bridges that are posted or closed but after these new restrictions are put in place, Pennsylvania will rank 27th in the nation.
PennDOT will begin posting bridges with weight limits as soon as Aug. 29. Posting on local bridges will take place at a later date.
To view the bridges with new or lowered weight restrictions or to learn more about bridge weight restrictions and PennDOT's bridge-inspection program, visit the PennDOT homepage at www.dot.state.pa.us and click on "Bridge Information."