Share This Page

PennDOT putting more weight limits on bridges

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 11:07 p.m.

Signs declaring some bridges off-limits to heavy vehicles are going up in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties and around the state, meaning lengthy detours for some trucks carrying heavy loads, the head of PennDOT's Pittsburgh-area district office said on Monday.

“The average driver in a sedan probably won't see a change in their travel because the weight of the car will get across any bridge that remains open. However, that road that they travel might have additional trucks on it that are detoured off of another bridge,” said Dan Cessna, executive of PennDOT's District 11, which covers Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

“Over time, as trucks are taking longer detours, it's possible they're going to see increased costs because the goods and commodities that are being transported by truck will have a potentially longer travel route, which ultimately the consumer will pay that cost.”

PennDOT last month slapped weight restrictions on about 1,000 bridges statewide because lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have allocated money to fix some of the state's aging infrastructure. Allegheny County has 24 weight-restricted bridges, including the Liberty Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge. Beaver County has five, including the Koppel Bridge, and Lawrence County has 16.

Cessna said the postings have started. He hopes to have them in place by the end of fall. Detours for major weight-restricted bridges will have alternate routes for trucks posted. The detour for the Liberty Bridge will route truckers to the Fort Pitt Bridge; the Elizabeth Bridge detour routes trucks to the Clairton-Glassport Bridge.

Jim Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said he is preparing a letter to Harrisburg lawmakers outlining his industry's concerns.

“We're obviously concerned about knocking a bridge down and we certainly don't want to do that,” Runk said. “(With weight restrictions) there could be hours of circuitous routes, increased driver hours — it could cost our industry millions of dollars per year.”

The Senate in June passed a $2.5 billion spending plan for roads, bridges and transit needs with a 45-5 vote. The bill would have raised money by lifting a cap on the tax that wholesalers pay for gasoline, which likely would mean higher prices at the pump. The bill included higher driver's license and registration fees. That bill and a House version that would have raised less money for transit stalled in the House.

State Rep. Daryl Met-calfe, R-Cranberry, suspects PennDOT's weight restrictions are a political ploy to get more money from lawmakers. He said PennDOT should prioritize which bridges need to be fixed and rely on some of the $7 billion the state gives the agency.

Cessna denied politics played a role in the decision.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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.