Some area bridges facing new weight limits

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Thirty-eight bridges in Washington and Greene counties will be among those posted with new weight restrictions.


“Postings will probably begin later this month,” said Valerie Petersen, spokeswoman for PennDOT District 12 in Uniontown.


Passenger cars weigh an average of 1.5 tons, while a pickup truck averages 3 tons and an ambulance, 5 tons, said Joseph Szczur, PennDOT District 12 executive. Contrast this with a school bus at full capacity that weighs 17 tons and a fire truck that weighs 30 tons.


PennDOT’s own truck, loaded with road salt, weighs 28 tons, and a tractor-trailer weighs 40 tons, he said, so the real impact will be felt by those driving emergency vehicles, school buses and the largest trucks.


It will take PennDOT “weeks and months to determine the impact a weight restriction will have on surrounding roadways and work out detours for each bridge. We start from a priority standpoint with bridges with the highest amount of truck traffic,” Szczur said.


The final stage will be installing signs noting the new weight restrictions. In some cases, motorists will see postings next week.


State-owned bridges affected in Washington County include spans over Buffalo Creek, Brush Run branch, Chartiers Run branch, Little Chartiers Creek, Peters Creek, Chartiers Creek, Little Chartiers Creek branch, Horne Run, Little Ten Mile Creek, Daniels Run, Montgomery Run, Pigeon Creek, Pike Run, Dog Run, St. Patrick Run, Bigger Run, Buffalo Creek branch, Cross Creek north fork and Brush Run.


Reduced weight restrictions also will affect municipal bridges.


Don Herbert, District 12 bridge engineer, said “PennDOT is the steward” for any municipal or county bridges over 20 feet. There are many more local bridges that made the PennDOT spreadsheet, but those listed represent either new postings or an existing posting that has been reduced.


“You’re generally looking at a 10- to 20-percent reduction in the safe load capacity,” Herbert said.


Two locally owned bridges in Washington County are included on the state’s list: a 62-foot span that carries Ridgewood Drive over Miller’s Run, Cecil Township, and a bridge on Redd’s Mill Road that has carried traffic for 67 feet over Pigeon Creek in Fallowfield Township near Bentleyville since 1935. They were previously posted with weight restrictions.


The postings are being carried out because of lack of funding, Petersen said, for the safety of motorists “to preserve what we currently have, and (to) decrease further damage,” Petersen said, adding she did not know of any bridge closings in the area.


In Greene County, state bridges to be posted include spans over Castile Run, a branch of Dunkard Creek, Whiteley Creek, Braden’s Run, the Pennsylvania fork of Dunkard Creek, Hargus Creek, the south fork of Wheeling Creek and Scott Run.


Six locally owned bridges in Greene County include the Harvey Hill Road bridge over Gray’s Fork, Perry Township Road 479 over Brown’s Creek, a concrete bridge that has carried Township Road 353 over Roberts Run south of Spraggs since 1926, and Township Road 369 over Hoover’s Run, south of Kuhntown, a 34-foot steel bridge built in 1996. All of these bridges have already been posted.


Two bridges to be posted are Township Roads 489, Sy Huffman Hill Road, and 491, Orndorff Road, both over Smith Creek in Franklin Township.


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