Bridge weight restrictions posted; businesses already feeling the pain

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In the recent weeks PennDot has started posting weight restrictions throughout the state to protect Pennsylvania’s deficient bridges. Businesses are already feeling the pain.

Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority sends more than 50 trucks out everyday from their transfer station in Lancaster to the incinerator in Bainbridge. The new weight restriction on the bridge that carries Route 441 over Chiques Creek means these trucks must go on a detoured route around the bridge.

“When we’re full we have to find alternative routes to avoid the bridge over Chiques Creek on Route 441. That is what we use to haul our trash from the transfer station here in Lancaster up to our waste to energy power plant in Bainbridge,” said James Warner, CEO of Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. “Neighbors and businesses that we go by aren’t used to a lot of truck traffic, and now they are having to incur that as well and we just want to go over our state bridges.

Trucks leaving the incinerator carrying ash to the landfill must detour around the bridge carrying Route 441 over Chiques Creek. Tri-axle trucks hauling ash need to lighten their loads to meet the new weight restriction on the Route 23 bridge over Chiques Creek.

“Not only are they detoured but they also have to run lighter. We have to run them about two and a half tons lighter just to get across the bridge on Marietta Pike,” said Warner. “The frustrating thing is, you are forced to run inefficiently. We’ve calculated that in extra labor and extra trips it would be about $135,000 added to our operating costs. No businesses going to be pleased about that.”

“That is clearly a countywide cost. They are not just eating up that cost, now everyone is paying a higher expense just to get rid f their trash,” said Tom Baldrige, President and CEO of The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Baldrige is also part of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition. “It’s dedicated to making sure Pennsylvania is adequately funding transportation. From mass transit, to roads, to bridges and everything in between,” said Baldrige. “Pennsylvania has a real problem and these bridge restrictions is the first example of what happens when you don’t adequately fund transportation.”

“That re-routing is additional gasoline, additional employees, sometimes multiple loads over the same bridge. If a business has to pay additional money for a delivery, that additional money will be passed onto the other business, and then to the consumer,” said Baldrige. “The bills out there being considered to fund transportation will add cost to the pump of a gallon of gasoline. But the simple fact is at least that money is going to improve the infrastructure. With bridges closing and weight restrictions the money that is being spent or wasted isn’t going to fix the problem it’s an extra expense coming out-of-pocket from the consumer or business.”