New bridge weight limits affect Valley
Late last month, PennDOT announced that scores of bridges across the state would face new weight restrictions.
Those restrictions are leading tractor-trailer operators to seek detours around the affected spans. The detours will affect businesses in the Mon Valley.
The Elizabeth Bridge, which carries Route 51 across the Monongahela River, now has a 32-ton limit. There were previously no weight limits and as recently as July – months after its latest inspection – was not deemed structurally deficient by PennDOT.
The restriction means that loaded cement trucks, which weigh 33 tons; dump trucks, 36 tons; and tractor trailers, 40 tons, would have to exit Route 51 before crossing the bridge.
Joe Vesely, vice president of Vesely Brothers Moving & Storage Inc. in Rostraver Township, said a 40-ton vehicle is maximum weight allowed without permits.
“To reduce that by seven tons, I would think that would be substantial,” Vesely said.
Vesely said weight limits on the Elizabeth Bridge will create some problems for his business.
The company will likely use the Mon/Fayette Expressway, bypassing the bridge and connecting the Valley with Route 51 in Jefferson Borough.
While he does not think that detour will add time to his trucks' schedule, it will add tolls to the cost of moving.
Otherwise, Vesely vehicles would have to take Interstate 70 to I-79 north, and then the Parkway into Pittsburgh. Another detour would involve I-70 to the turnpike.
Those alternatives would add time and tolls, he noted.
The bridge restrictions will add to delays caused by construction on the Liberty and Squirrel Hill tunnels, Vesely said.
“The city is going to be very hard to access,” he said.
Vesely questioned the timing of the bridge restrictions.
“If these tests were done five or six months ago, why is it that the restrictions are just being placed now?” Vesely said.
“If they knew there was an unsafe bridge or a tonnage issue, they should have done something immediately. Were they waiting for an accident to happen?”
Joe Slaska, manager of the Rite Aid in Elizabeth, said the trucking industry will be dealing with the weight restrictions throughout the state. He said Rite Aid's distribution center will deal with bridge restrictions throughout the area, including the Elizabeth Bridge.
“This is something that a lot of businesses would have to deal with,” said Slaska, adding he is unsure if deliveries will be delayed.
Slaska recalled detour issues for his and other area businesses when the Boston Bridge was closed during construction that culminated last year.
Trucks coming off Route 51 to avoid the bridge could pass Rite Aid.
“We're fortunate that we're right off the ramp, so we get a lot of business that way,” Slaska said.
Orrie Rockwell, owner of Rockwell's Red Lion, said deliveries to his restaurant in downtown Elizabeth are generally made in box trucks, not tractor-trailers.
But he noted that increased traffic downtown could eventually bring additional customers.
“Any traffic is better than no traffic,” Rockwell said. “But the streets are tight, so it might be difficult for them to park those big trucks and stop.
“But if they drive by and see we are here, they come back another day and bring their family.”
The West Newton Bridge has a 36-ton limit, except for combination vehicles which can weigh up to 40 tons.
An average, fully-loaded tractor trailer weighs 40 tons, PennDOT District 12 spokeswoman Valerie Peterson said.
Thus the new weight restriction on that span will likely have minimal affect on downtown West Newton.
“Weight restriction on any bridge leading into our towns is a concern for the community and businesses, and the West Newton Bridge is no exception,” said Gina Lynn, executive director of the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce. “Many of the businesses in that area rely on deliveries and supplies via tractor trailer-truck, and a weight restriction could cause negative effects.
“A longer, detoured route could mean higher prices that may be passed on to the consumer and could even add delays with delivery time.
“Hearing that the weight restrictions on the West Newton Bridge will permit continued delivery truck activity is certainly good news for the businesses and residents in that area.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2642.
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.
- Recalling ‘White Friday’ storm that paralyzed Mid-Mon Valley in 1950
- Holiday movie gives Cal U students get 2 seconds of fame
- Holiday spirit alive & well in Mon Valley
- Mon Valley Leathernecks tackle Toys for Tots drive
- Monongahela Valley Hospital celebrates annual Light-Up Night
- Holiday shopping season off to early start in Mon Valley
- Small Business Saturday events grow