Elizabeth officials promise to oppose bridge restrictions
Elizabeth borough officials are protesting PennDOT plans to post a 32-ton limit on the bridge carrying Route 51 over the Monongahela River between Elizabeth and West Elizabeth.
The posting will bar cement trucks (which weigh 33 tons loaded, according to PennDOT), dump trucks (36 tons) and tractor trailers (40 tons).
Borough officials learned of the plans from PennDOT District 11 staff.
“We're not going to let this go down without a fight,” council president Monica Glowinski said at Tuesday's council meeting.
Council adopted a resolution “in opposition to the establishment of weight limits on the Elizabeth Bridge due to the severe handicap the weight limits will put on the borough.”
Councilors were briefed by state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, who said the problem is not one of public safety.
“None of the bridges are going to come down,” Saccone said. “We're talking about extending the life of these bridges, reducing the weight.”
“And forcing traffic in all directions into Elizabeth,” Councilwoman Paula Stevens said.
Saccone suggested the state transportation department is trying to pressure lawmakers into passing a transportation bill that includes lifting the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax.
“I can't find anyone who really wants a 28-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike,” Saccone said, referring to comments made at five town meetings this year.
State Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, said he is not surprised by PennDOT secretary Barry J. Schoch's decision.
“This is about public safety,” Brewster said. “The legislature failed to pass a transportation bill that provided enough funds to repair Pennsylvania's structurally deficient bridges.”
Glowinski said she was told by PennDOT District 11 staffer Stephanie Zolnak that the limit will take effect on Thursday.
PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the district is finishing a list of bridges that will have weight limits. It could be released on Wednesday.
Six state-maintained bridges will have weight limits in Mon-Yough communities. They and a county bridge in Munhall are on Schoch's list of 530 state and 470 county bridges to be posted.
Brewster, whose 45th District extends to Elizabeth Township but not Elizabeth borough, said “the list of weight-restricted bridges will continue to grow until the legislature provides enough support to repair them.”
Glowinski said Zolnak asked him if the restrictions will have an economic impact.
“It is a quality-of-life issue,” Glowinski replied. “We are a small, pedestrian town.”
Saccone said it appears PennDOT is acting “without knowing the impact on communities like Elizabeth Borough.”
The resolution written by Solicitor Pat McGrail outlined the impact on traffic congestion, loss of parking, damage to private residences, damage to sidewalks and negative impact on the business district.
Council approved the resolution, 4-0, with Glowinski, and councilwomen Robin Payne-Main, Paula Stevens and V. Ann Malady in favor. Council vice president Robin Miller abstained because she is employed by PennDOT. Larry Duvall and Paul Shaner were absent.
The likely detour for southbound trucks will be Route 837 to the Clairton-Glassport Bridge, then to Glassport-Elizabeth Road, Lincoln Boulevard and McKeesport Road and N. Second Avenue, and then a left turn onto Market Street in downtown Elizabeth.
“You'd almost have to make Market a no-parking street,” resident Nancy Rowe told council.
Trucks have been a problem without the new weight limit.
“They've already taken out half of my porch,” Payne-Main said.
Saccone said bills are being proposed in Harrisburg to deal with the bridge issue, including his proposal to open 300,000 acres of state forest to natural gas development.
“These postings appear as though they may have an impact on shale operations across the commonwealth,” said Steve Forde, spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition. “We are analyzing the listings to determine the extent of just how consequential this announcement may be.”
Forde said “tightly regulated development” has produced more than $1.8 billion in tax revenues and more than $400 million in impact fee revenues over the past two years.
“Additionally, our industry has invested over $600 million in road construction and repairs,” Forde said. “Without question, shale development continues to play an increasingly important role in addressing many longstanding infrastructure issues in Pennsylvania.”
Saccone said there have been efforts to link bridge funding to selling the state liquor stores, another area of disagreement with Brewster.
“The transportation bill was tied to a failed liquor privatization bill in the legislature and this was unacceptable and irresponsible,” Brewster said.
Brewster said he will work with his colleagues to pass a comprehensive transportation bill that properly funds bridge and road repairs when the Senate begins a new session next month.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New traffic lights to be installed near McKeesport’s Jerome Bridge
- McKeesport prepares for Relay For Life
- Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
- Homestead summit addresses ways to help inmates transition after prison
- Mon Yough school districts, nonprofits getting by for now with no state budget
- Local residents reminisce about Glassport pool
- Mifflin Road project is on schedule, within budget
- Voyager facility takes off at W. Mifflin’s County Airport
- Foundation fundraiser stylish in ‘Simply Silver’
- Irwin woman waives sex charges to court
- 3 charged in carjack attempt in Duquesne