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New Bridge Restrictions Could Hurt Businesses

A new plan by PennDOT to post new weight restrictions on bridges across the commonwealth could severely impact some businesses.
One day after PennDOT said it plans to put new weight restrictions on deficient bridges across the commonwealth, we're learning the toll it could take on business and industry.

Looking over a map of deficient bridge statistics in the United States, PennDOT spokesman James May says Pennsylvania is one of the worst.

May says drastic measures are being taken and more than 1,000 bridges, including many in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, could soon be off-limits to big rig traffic.

"What we're really trying to do is slow down the long-term deterioration on these bridges," May said.

Looking at the list, businesses in the Moscow-area of Lackawanna County could be hard hit.

The bridge on Route 435 in Elmhurst Township, near Blue Shutters Restaurant, could soon have a weight limit and on Route 690 near the Moscow Elementary School, another bridge which already has a restriction could be downgraded again.

That would cut off two main arteries used by Edwards Concrete. Workers say longer detours would mean big problems.

"First and foremost, we have perishable loads so once the truck gets loaded we have an hour and a-half to get the load off the truck," dispatcher Jordan Edwards said. "If not, the load is garbage. Concrete, you know, sidewalks, driveways, foundations."

Edwards Concrete serves mainly the Mount Pocono and Scranton areas but if the new restrictions go into place, they'd be virtually cut off from the Electric City.

"We can't go down 307. We can't go down because there's a weight limit there down that hill off Moosic Street there. There's no other way to get into Scranton," Edwards said.

That is just one example of the effect the new weight restrictions could have but trucks with the natural gas drilling industry could also be impacted along with school bus routes.

PennDOT blames the lack of a new transportation funding plan.

"We've been warning, we've been saying that this is what will have to come if there's no funding," May said. "It's just the reality of budgets if you don't have the dollars, you don't have the money. You have to look at some other options."
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