Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington County Board of Supervisors agreed to lower weight limits on several bridges in their jurisdiction Tuesday morning, responding to a round of bridge inspections and a state law passed two years ago that increased truck carry loads.
“Over time, as with anything, things age and weaken, so our bridges, as they age, their weight capacity is reduced,” said County Engineer Jacob Thorius. “We are adding six new structures to the list. This is because of new changes in state code that allowed heavier trucks on secondary roads. Before they were only allowed on primary roads.”
In general, Thorius said the changes were small.
“Most of these are gradual step downs over time,” he said. “It’s not 40 tons today and tomorrow at six tons, we have incremented down.”
Thorius said some bridges had varying weight restrictions, based on the vehicle carrying the load.
“It depends on the truck configuration,” he said. “The longer the vehicle, the weight is spread out over a longer vehicle, so it’s spread out over the bridge. So you can have a 40-ton semi, but not a 40-ton dump truck, because that weight is all spread out.”
Thorius noted the restrictions would apply to farm vehicles.
“These are weight restrictions on the bridge, this is the legal load that we will allow on that structure,” he said. “The bridges, this is the posting whether you’re in a pickup, or pulling a tractor trailer, or you’re in a semi, or a combine, tractor pulling grain wagons, manure tanker, whatever. This is the legal posting for any vehicle crossing a bridge.”
While the county hopes to upgrade some of the bridges in the near future, Thorius said efforts were restricted by budgets.
“We are working on plans to eliminate those last six that are 120-foot structures,” he said. “A couple of these other ones are in the works to find ways to replace them, it just all boils down to funding.”