Skip to content

PennDOT Restricts Bridge Weights; Gearing Up for Fall Session Battles

The House and Senate return to session September 23, with several major policy issues still unresolved.  Among the biggest issues, and one which impacts all segments of business and society, is transportation funding. 

As promised during budget season and siting safety concerns, the Corbett administration moved forward with restricting weight allowances on 1,000 bridges across the state after the legislature was unable to produce a final transportation funding package.

Senate Bill1, which would provide an additional $2.5 billion in funding/spending for statewide transportation system improvements, was passed by the Senate in early June by a 45-5 vote, but after several hearings and amendments to the bill in the House, action stalled as legislators left Harrisburg for summer recess unable to secure a majority for the plans in that chamber.

Transportation infrastructure funding is a critical need in the Commonwealth, and the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission identifying a $3.5 billion need annually. 

Last week PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch announced the new or increased weight restrictions on 1,000 bridges in an effort to slow their deterioration and prevent closures in the long term. Of the bridges on the department’s list, about half already have weight restrictions and the future reduction in capacity has many companies and municipalities concerned.

The weight limitations are already having an impact on manufacturers, energy companies, school bus schedules, trucking, agribusiness, and fire and EMS services, as the limitations force workarounds and increase the costs of delivery, food and services and decrease emergency response times.

PennDOT has estimated that to reach the national average, the state would need to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges by nearly 400 each year for 21 years. Currently, about 300 bridges are added to the structurally deficient list annually.

For more information, visit the PennDOT homepage and click on “Bridge Information.”