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Truckers Ignore Emergency Bridge Limits

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Rushing to act after an engineering analysis showed a busy bridge failing, New York State officials imposed emergency load limits on the span—only to have truckers ignore them.

Local police in western New York were chasing down and ticketing violators as fast as they could write, including 15 tickets in one 45-minute segment, Genesee County Sheriff's Sergeant Gregory Walker told

Photos: WGRZ screen grabs

NYS DOT reduced the 40-ton vehicle load limit to just six tons on the Route 20 bridge in Alexander. A number of big-rig drivers took no notice and crossed the span anyway.

"Most of the excuses we heard were, 'I always come this way,'…" Walker said.

Load Limit: From 40T to 6T

The limits on the Route 20 bridge over Tonawanda Creek in the town of Alexander were reduced Thursday (Sept. 25) after load testing "failed miserably," the news outlet reported.

The New York State Department of Transportation immediately reduced the bridge's 40-ton vehicle weight limit to vehicles weighing six tons or less and closed the road's shoulders until the agency could make repairs over the weekend.


"Most of the excuses we heard were, 'I always come this way,'" said one officer.

"This posting is being put in place following a recent inspection and engineering analysis that revealed the bridge can no longer safely carry heavier traffic in its current condition," NYS DOT reported. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced next year.

Night Work

After the inspection, DOT crews "worked through the night to erect signs for several miles on either side of the bridge, warning truckers that the bridge ahead was now off limits to them," WGRZ reported.

NYS DOT changed the weight limit signs and posted an electronic message board warning of the new limits and advising of alternate routes.

When crews arrived Friday morning to begin repairs, however, big rigs were rolling through as usual. The crews called police, who were kept busy from the time they arrived.


An engineering analysis showed the bridge "can no longer safely carry heavier traffic in its current condition," NYS DOT announced. It worked overnight to post alerts and notices of alternate routes.

"There was another deputy that got there before I did, and he had already stopped three or four tractor trailers that were crossing," Walker told the television station.

One trucker complained to the TV station that one of the signs "looks like someone drew it on with a marker."

Walker said only, "[T]hey need to look at the signs when they're posted. They're posted in spots where they have alternate routes they can take, and they're just not taking those alternate routes."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Corrosion; DOT; Enforcement; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Inspection; North America; Structural steel

Comment from Tony Rangus, (9/30/2014, 12:23 PM)

Reason why long haulers/truckers are held in low esteem. The Alfred E. Neuman defense, "What me worry."

Comment from M. Halliwell, (10/1/2014, 11:00 AM)

I wouldn’t go that far, Tony. Probably the same poor choice with lack of consequences that catch a lot of people..."I’ve driven my truck over that bridge tons of times and nothing has's fine." Just like talking on a cell phone or texting and driving or "It's only a couple beers...I'm fine to drive." All three are serious choices with potentially fatal consequences...just not every time. Folks do it a couple times, figure nothing "bad" will happen and get complacent with it...until something bad happens.

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