Essential Pittsburgh
2:08 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Weight Limits Used to Preserve Structurally Deficient Bridges

The Liberty and Birmingham bridges will be following new weight limit guidelines. How will this affect your commute?
Credit saeru / flickr

Pittsburgh takes great pride in being known as “the city of bridges” but what most Pittsburghers do not know is that Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as “structurally deficient.”

Bridges are inspected at least once every two years in Pennsylvania and as the bridges are inspected they are given a rating from zero to nine. A bridge with a rating of five or higher is considered ok and a bridge with a score of four or lower is deemed structurally deficient.

Dan Cessna District Executive for PennDOT District 11 says this low rating does not mean that the bridges are unsafe to drive on. If a bridge is unsafe to drive on, PennDOT would shut down the bridge entirely. Another problem that some bridges have is when they are deemed functionally obsolete, this means the bridge does not fit with current design standards. This could simply mean that the bridge is a little too narrow or too wide.

One of PennDot’s newest systems for preserving these structures includes weight limits for bridges with a low rating. The Liberty bridge, is one which received a number four rating in its last inspection, and one which will carry specific weight restrictions.  For more information on the new weight limits and bridges visit PennDOT.