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Some Franklin, Fulton county bridges to be subject to lower weight restrictions

September 03, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Six bridges in Franklin County and five in Fulton County are among about 1,000 in the state that will be subject to lower weight restrictions to slow their deterioration and ensure safety.

New sign postings began last week and could take several months, according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials.

Pennsylvania State Police and local officers will enforce the new weight restrictions, PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis said last week.

The weight restrictions were added to about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges across the state to ensure bridge safety and to preserve the aging bridge system, PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said in a news release last month.

Reducing the weight traveling on those bridges will slow their deterioration and preserve safety while funding for their repairs remains uncertain, Schoch said in a statement.

PennDOT said loaded dump trucks, tractor-trailers and snowplows could be affected by the weight restrictions, but not firetrucks and buses.

The Franklin County bridges include:

• Little Cove Road Bridge (Pa. 456) over Licking Creek near the Maryland border in Warren Township.

• Orrstown Road Bridge (Pa. 533) over Lehman Run in Letterkenny Township.

• Dry Run Road (Pa. 568) over Dry Run in Fannett Township.

• 4004 Horse Valley Road over the West Branch of the Conocheague Creek in Metal Township.

• Dickey’s Road over Buck Run in Peters Township.

• Baer Road over Red Run in Washington Township.

The Fulton County bridges include:

• High Germany Road over Bear Creek in Union Township.

• Hill Road over Sawmill Hollow Run in Bethel Township.

• Lodge Road over Brush Creek in Brush Creek Township.

• Reunion Grade Road over Licking Creek in Licking Creek Township.

• Zachs Ridge Road over McKees Run in Union Township.

“PennDOT must take this step because of legislative inaction this past June on transportation funding, leaving the department’s future resources in question,” 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,” he said.

PennDOT has regulatory oversight over all bridges in the state, so Schoch’s authorization applies weight restrictions to 530 state-owned and about 470 locally owned bridges.

Pennsylvania currently has 567 state bridges and 1,685 local bridges posted with weight restrictions.

National bridge weight-limit posting criteria allow restrictions to be applied anytime from when a bridge’s ability to handle more than 80,000 pounds begins to decline, down to when it has lost half of that capacity.

Currently, Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of SD, or structurally deficit, bridges, with 4,479. The state ranks 35th in the nation with the percent of structurally deficient bridges that are posted or closed. But when the new restrictions are put in place, it will rank 27th.

“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.”

“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.”

Even if the legislature passes a transportation funding plan in the fall, the earliest the weight restrictions could be removed would be when their repairs can be programmed for funding within two years. If conditions warrant, the restrictions could remain in place until repairs are made, Schoch said.

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