Elizabeth balks at bridge assignment
Elizabeth officials are seeking relief from the Public Utility Commission's plan to have borough police enforce the weight limit that PennDOT has imposed on the Elizabeth Bridge.
“They wanted us to be responsible for the enforcement of the posted limit,” Elizabeth council president Monica Glowinski said. “We just do not have the capacity to do that.”
And as a result of a bureaucratic mistake, the borough will have to repeat its appeal of the PUC's request.
A letter issued by PUC secretary Rosemary Chiavetta on Sept. 16 proposed that “Elizabeth borough and West Elizabeth borough and/or the Pennsylvania State Police enforce the posted maximum load limit established herein, enlisting the assistance of the Commonwealth Weight Enforcement teams, if necessary.”
The PUC is getting into the act because of concern for Norfolk Southern and CSX tracks under the bridge. CSX trains run through Elizabeth; Norfolk Southern runs through West Elizabeth.
The burden would be on Elizabeth police to enforce the limit — 32 tons on single trucks and 40 on combination vehicles — because they patrol both boroughs.
“The result of this enforcement and the related detour is heavy commercial traffic through the borough, which has already caused significant property and economic damages to borough citizens,” Elizabeth Solicitor Pat McGrail wrote in an appeal to the PUC dated Oct. 16.
McGrail's letter and other information is posted on the PUC's website with the docket number M-2013-2382620.
The docket was established less than two weeks from the date that PennDOT posted weight restrictions on the bridge.
Glowinski said the borough has not heard back from the PUC, but PennDOT since has made a complaint that was noted in a subsequent PUC letter.
“We have determined that (the earlier) letter inadvertently failed to make the Pennsylvania State Police a party to this proceeding,” Chiavetta wrote in a letter dated Monday.
“Considering the commission is issuing a corrected secretarial letter that includes an additional party to this proceeding, the commission will take no action on Elizabeth borough's petition,” Chiavetta wrote.
“However, Elizabeth borough may file a new petition for appeal from staff action with regard to the corrected secretarial letter.”
In any case, the borough and solicitor argue the onus for enforcement falls on state police.
“Municipal police jurisdiction does not extend to a state highway except under specific circumstances,” McGrail wrote in her first appeal.
“Instead, enforcement of the weight limit falls squarely within the responsibility of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
A hearing could take place but not until all parties comply with the order.
“Upon completion of the work herein ordered, a formal hearing be held, if requested, to elicit testimony from all affected parties relative to the costs incurred by the parties in performing work in accordance with this letter,” Chiavetta wrote.
At the borough council meeting on Tuesday, officials expressed concern over the willingness of state police to assist in monitoring the weight limit.
State police officials in Pittsburgh and Washington, where Troop B's headquarters cover the Belle Vernon barracks, could not be reached for comment at presstime.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
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.
- Elizabeth Bridge to receive $17.1M rehabilitation
- Residents express thanks to Allegheny County Housing Authority
- Steel Valley School District considers measures to bus students
- Summer workers help fight Mon Valley neighborhood blight
- Elizabeth prepares for first-ever farmers market
- McKeesport convenience store sells winning ticket