New Weight Limits Set For Deficient Bridges

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WRIGHT TOWNSHIP -- You may start seeing heavy truck traffic in some different parts of Luzerne County.

PennDOT put new weight limits on bridges on Routes 309 and 437 Thursday and that means detours.

One bridge in Mountain Top is only 28 feet long but now some trucks that want to cross it will instead have to drive 14 miles around it.

PennDOT posted the detour signs this morning.

Trucks that weigh more than 28 tons and tractor-trailers more than 35 tons cannot cross it legally. It's a change that could affect lots of people in this part of Mountain Top.

It's a bridge so small, you probably wouldn't even know it's a bridge.  But hundreds of trucks pass it on Route 309 in Wright Township every day. According to PennDOT, it's one of the 1000 structurally deficient bridges in the state.

"We don't know when or if additional funding is coming for these bridges. We need to make these bridges last as long as we can possibly make them last," said PennDOT spokesperson James May.

Trucks weighing more than 28 tons and tractor-trailers more than 35 tons can no longer pass it legally. The same goes for a bridge along Route 437 in nearby Dennison Township.

Now heavy trucks that need to get across one bridge have a 14-mile detour. The detour around the bridge on Route 437 is 30 miles.

That makes shipments more expensive for businesses like Sapa Extrusions in the nearby Crestwood Industrial Park.

"We're in a very competitive industry. It's not easy to pass those costs along to our end customer and we would end up absorbing them," said Sapa supply chain manager John Laputka.

Route 309 serves as a detour for Interstate 81 and Route 437 is a detour for Route 309. If Route 81 closes, heavy trucks will have to use South Main Street in Wright Township.

Lorenzo Castiglione lives along Route 309 and says the detours are hard enough as it is.

"I have a hard time getting in and out of here, too, because of all the traffic. There's too many detours. One after the other, one after the other," said Lorenzo Castiglione of Butler Township.

When we were there earlier in the day, we saw a number of large trucks that seemed too big for the weight limit drive over the bridge.

PennDOT says there are serious fines if trucks are caught crossing the bridges illegally.

PennDOT is working with state police to enforce the limits.