Pennsylvania highway officials Thursday announced new weight restrictions or reductions in the amount of weight allowed on some 1,000 bridges, a decision prompted by safety and preservation concerns.

The state Department of Transportation announcement came less than two months after proposals to increase taxes and fees to improve highway, bridge and mass transit infrastructure stalled in the Legislature.

The decision applies to 530 state-owned bridges and about 470 locally owned bridges. In York County, 11 locally owned bridges and 10 state-owned bridges will be slapped with the new restrictions, according to PennDOT.

"We're trying to extend the life of these bridges. They're not unsafe," Secretary Barry J.

PennDOT employee Tony Camplese of York Haven works on a concrete retaining wall along Route 216/616 in Glen Rock.
PennDOT employee Tony Camplese of York Haven works on a concrete retaining wall along Route 216/616 in Glen Rock. (Sam Kalina photo)
Schoch said at a news conference in the warehouse-sized PennDOT sign shop on the outskirts of Harrisburg, where workers were removing stencils from freshly painted signs.

Deficient: Pennsylvania has nearly 4,500 structurally deficient bridges, more than any other state.

The weight limits will remain in place for some time, even if new funding gets approved this autumn, Schoch said. The new weight limits will begin to be posted next week, a process that will take four to five months.

Greg Penny, PennDOT spokesman, said crews will begin to post restriction signs locally on Thursday.

Though PennDOT released a list of affected bridges, the restrictions are not yet available.

"For the majority of our (York County) bridges, we won't have a significant restriction," Penny said.

Restrictions: The majority of drivers won't be affected by the weight restrictions. An average car weighs about 1.5 tons, while a school bus weighs about 17 tons, according to PennDOT.

Penny said there's a possibility that one school district may be affected by a bridge restriction in the county.

Even emergency services with vehicles, such as an ambulance that weighs about 5 tons and fire apparatus that weighs between 17 to 30 tons, likely won't be hindered by the restrictions when responding to calls.

However, the trucking and agricultural industries may be affected, Penny said.

A typical loaded tractor-trailer weights about 40 tons, and a loaded dump truck weighs in at about 36 tons, according to PennDOT.

Tractor-trailers may be above some of the new weight restrictions, Penny said.

"This is a trend that's just going to make it more difficult for commerce and the trucking industry and agriculture," he said. "It's not a good sign."

Additional businesses, such as construction companies that use cement trucks that weigh on average 33 tons could be affected, as would PennDOT, which has plow trucks that weigh 28 tons when fully loaded, if weight limits are lowered further.

Impact: Businesses along part of Lincoln Highway in Hellam Township may have to re-route tractor-trailers around a bridge to be hit with a restriction.

Big rigs use Lincoln Highway to get to Route 30 from local businesses, said Corine Mann, township manager.

A bridge on Lincoln Highway over Kreutz Creek sits between a number of those businesses and Route 30.

"The most convenient way to get to Route 30 is to go down Lincoln Highway to Kreutz Creek Road," Mann said.

The county-owned West Princess Street bridge over the Codorus Creek in York City also made PennDOT's list.

But it's doubtful car or small-truck drivers will be affected, said Jim Gross, the city's public works director, adding not many, if any tractor-trailers, use Princess Street.

"I don't think it'll have a major impact," he said.

But the restrictions do bring to light the need for additional state transportation funding, Gross said.

List of state-owned bridges impacted in York County

* Guinston Road bridge over a branch of Muddy Creek in Chanceford Township

* Muddy Creek Forks Road bridge over the north branch of Muddy Creek in East Hopewell Township

* Andersonstown Road bridge over Yellow Breeches Creek in Fairview Township

* Lincoln Highway bridge over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township

* Canadochly Road bridge over a branch of Cabin Creek in Lower Windsor Township

* Park Road bridge over Codorus Creek in Manheim Township

* Seven Valleys Road bridge of a tributary of the south branch of the Codorus Creek in North Codorus Township

* Iron Stone Hill Road bridge over Inners Run in Springfield Township

* Baltimore Pike bridge over Bermudian Creek in Washington Township

* Main Street bridge over tributary of Doe Run in Wellsville

List of locally owned bridges impacted in York County

* Honey Valley Road bridge over Inners Creek in York Township

* Junction Road bridge over Dogwood Run in Carroll Township

* Clearview Road bridge over Davidsburg Run in Dover Township

* Lost Hollow Road bridge of the north branch of Bermudian Creek in Franklin Township

* Furnace Road bridge over Cabin Creek in Lower Windsor Township

* North Grantham Road bridge over Yellow Breeches Creek in Monaghan Township

* Hayrick Road bridge over the west branch of the Codorus creek at the border of Heidelberg and North Codorus townships

* Lake Road bridge over Big Conewago Creek at the border of Paradise and Washington townships

* Bermudian Church Road bridge over Bermudian Creek in Washington Township

* Bentz Mill Road bridge over Bermudian Creek in Washington Township

* West Princess Street bridge over Codorus Creek in York City

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.