Impeding weight restrictions on nearly 300 miles of bridges in Pennsylvania will cost truck drivers more time and money and will also impact small businesses and consumers, TribL reported.
PennDOT plans to impose strict weight restrictions on more than 1,000 deteriorating bridges. The restrictions are being put into place in order to “slow deterioration while lawmakers debate allocating money to fix them,” TribLIVE reported.
Barry Schoch, PennDoT secretary, told TribLIVE that the weight limit policy is necessary because legislators failed to pass a gasoline tax and other highway-related fees that would have generated revenue to fix the state’s infrastructure.
“We’ve done our best to reduce our costs. We can’t save our way out of this. … It’s not because I want to do it, and it’s not a political ploy. It’s engineering science and economic fact,” Schoch told TribLIVE. “Frankly, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This has been building for decades.”
Representative Daryl Metcalfe is calling Schoch’s bluff, stating that he believes PennDOT’s weight restriction policy is just a threat to get more money out of lawmakers.
“If the bridges were in need of weight restrictions, that would be the case before this (bill came up). If they’re only posting them now, it’s political,” Metcalfe said. “They’re already receiving $7 billion a year. Certainly we have bridges that need to be repaired and maintained, but I haven’t seen a priority list.”
Currently, PennDOT is working to evaluate which bridges will be restricted, but the agency has an initial list. As many as 2,200 state and local bridges are being considered for weight restrictions.
The restrictions could mean lengthy and costly detours for drivers.
Said Schoch, “If a farmer has to go on a 10-mile detour around a bridge, is he going to absorb that cost? Of course not. It’s going to make products more expensive. There is a cost of doing nothing. You can charge the people to fix the problem or you can let the system degrade even more and let them get charged another way.”
President of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, Jim Runk, informed lawmakers that the cost of the detours will likely be passed onto the consumer.
“Will that affect the cost of products? Maybe,” Runk said. “The mileage, the fuel, the driver’s time. It becomes a huge economic problem, and it’s a safety issue. We don’t want to knock a bridge down.”