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May 7, 2008
Update: Weight limit cut again on Pawtucket River Bridge
PROVIDENCE -- The state Department of Transportation said this morning that it has again reduced the weight limit on the Pawtucket River Bridge, which carries Route 95, from 22 tons to 18 tons.
The new weight limit will affect some loaded school buses, among other vehicles, said Kazem Farhoumand, the agency's acting chief engineer. The agency said signs posting the new limit would go up by the end of the day today.
Farhoumand said that the bridge remains safe and that the weight limits have been imposed to reduce continued deterioration of the bridge to keep it in service until it can be replaced, not because of a threat of failure. He also said the DOT may repair the damaged beams prompting the new weight limit.
Farhoumand said that he does not expect a large impact on truck traffic, and that the detours, set up with the DOT first reduced the weight limit in November, are working well. The DOT has been directing through truck traffic around the bridge, using Routes 146 and 295. More on detours, including maps ...
Farhoumand said the reduced limit is a response to the results of an inspection that found increased deterioration of three floor beams, which run across the bridge between its main girders which run lengthwise, parallel to traffic.
The bridge is actually two separate structures, one carrying northbound traffic and the other southbound. Two of the problem beams are on the southbound side and the third on the northbound side.
-- Journal staff writer Bruce Landis
The DOT has already asked the General Assembly for the power to ban all vehicles with three or more axles because overweight trucks continue to use the bridge and because of the difficulty of enforcing a limit that affects many trucks when they are full but not when they are empty.
Built in 1958 as part of the original interstate highway system, the bridge carries an estimated 162,000 vehicles per day.
Bridge inspections are typically done once every two years, but because of its condition, the Pawtucket River Bridge has a detailed inspection every six months, the DOT says
In a press release this morning, RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said, "The Pawtucket River Bridge is safe. However, in an abundance of caution and to further preserve its deteriorating condition until the bridge is replaced, we are lowering the posting of this bridge.”
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:15 PM | Permalink
Bill C | May 7, 2008 1:02 PM link
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What would Dirty Harry say? | May 8, 2008 4:43 PM link
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