Rhode Island lowers truck weight limit on two bridges

| 7/11/2008

A new law in Rhode Island restricts large trucks from two bridges in the state. The change coincides with the reposting of weight limits on the bridges.

Gov. Donald Carcieri signed a bill into law that prohibits vehicles with more than two axles or any combination vehicle equipped with more than two axles per unit from crossing the state Route 24 bridge over the Pawtucket River and the Interstate 95 bridge over the Sakonnet River.

The new law, previously HB8219, took effect this past month. It will remain in effect until June 12, 2011.

Signs will be posted to alert truckers about the restrictions.

Violators would face $3,000 fines. Subsequent offenses would result in up to $5,000 fines.

Supporters say the change is a practical, efficient and effective way of ensuring that overweight trucks don’t cross the bridges. They say the two-axle limit is easier for the State Police to enforce than requiring them to pull over trucks to check weights.

Opponents cited concerns about rising fuel costs that make detours around the bridges more costly. Local operations that must take the long detour are especially vulnerable, they say.

In addition to the axle limits on the two spans, trucks also are limited to 18 tons – down from 22 tons. Many heavier loads must route around.

Concerns about the corrosion of steel beams on the bridges led to the change.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is attempting to protect the bridges by slowing their deterioration. Ultimately, the agency is expected to replace both bridges.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Rhode Island in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor