Click image to view
By Jamie Serra
Thursday August 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

The Commonwealth's Secretary of Transportation Barry J. Schoch held a press conference earlier today to discuss the condition and necessity of implementing weight restrictions on 1,000 State and Locally-owned bridges.

The decision comes in the wake of legislative inaction on a transportation funding proposal that would ensure the Department of Transportation sufficient revenues to make necessary repairs to structurally deficient (SD) bridges.

Schoch's decision would apply weight restrictions to 530 state-owned and 470 locally owned bridges throughout the Commonwealth in order to reduce the amount of weight crossing the deteriorating bridges and extend their useful life.

Here's a list of the state-owned SD bridges subject to weight restrictions, a map of their locations is available here.

Here's the list of locally owned SD bridges subject to weight restrictions, a map of their locations is available here. When asked about Penn DOT's authority to perform weight restrictions on locally owned bridges in the absence of municipal support, Secretary Schoch offered the following, "They use State and Federal dollars, if they don't weight restrict them, we'll step in and do it for them."

Schoch noted that Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of SD bridges totaling 4,479. After the new weight restrictions are implemented Pennsylvania will rank 27th in the nation for the percentage of SD bridges that are posed or closed, the Commonwealth is currently ranked 35th.

Highlighting the legislatures inability to enact a comprehensive transportation plan Schoch noted, "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."

The Department of Transportation will begin posting the listed bridges as early as August 29th. Notifications to school-bus operators, emergency-service providers and local officials will begin today. Schoch said this isn't something that is going to happen overnight, "It'll take about 4 to 6 months for them to fully get implemented across the state, at a rate of 200 to 250 per month."

Here's our footage of Schoch discussing the types of vehicles that will be affected. In regard to school busses Schoch noted, "It's important to ensure that we're not putting kids on extremely long rides or risking their safety." Here's a photo of the Liberty Bridge sign that will eventually be posted in Allegheny County.

If the legislature can manage to pass a transportation funding plan when they return to session in September, the earliest the weight restrictions could be removed would be when their repairs can be programmed for funding within two years. Depending upon the condition of the bridge in question, the restrictions may remain in place until repairs have been made.

Schoch said this is a responsible decision that follows months of fruitless efforts to explain to lawmakers that there are very real consequences of failing to enact a transportation funding plan.

Sign Up or Log In to comment.