Yesterday, PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch authorized the department to modify the weight limits on 1,000 aging and structurally deficient bridges in the state.
According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Schoch said his department was forced to further restrict the bridges because the state failed to provide funding to repair the state’s deteriorating bridges.
“For months I’ve been explaining to Pennsylvanians and to lawmakers that there are very real consequences to not enacting a transportation funding plan,” Schoch said. “Without additional revenues anticipated in the future, I have to make the safe and responsible decision to reduce how much weight is crossing these deteriorating bridges.”
“We have a serious funding need and the legislature still has not acted to pass a comprehensive transportation plan. I have to look ahead to the future and preserve these bridges because, without action, we will not have money to invest in them for a long time.”
PennDOT decreased the weight limits on 530 state-owned bridges and 470 locally-owned bridges.
Pennsylvania has 4,479 structurally deficient bridges– the highest number of SD bridges in the nation.
“In the past we’ve been able to hold off on restricting bridges, but now we have to be more conservative,” Schoch said. “We have some of the oldest bridges in the nation and many of them need major repairs.”
Should the state decided to provide funds to repair the bridges, the weight restrictions still might not be lifted for at least a year, if not two. The restrictions will remain in place until the bridges can be fully repaired.
“PennDOT will begin posting bridges with weight limits as soon as Aug. 29. Notifications to school-bus operators, emergency-service providers and other local officials will begin today. Posting on local bridges will take place at a later date after PennDOT discusses these changes with local bridge owners,” the press release states.
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.”