LIMA — Load limit signs on bridges are getting a new look thanks to a new mandate, according to the Allen County Engineer’s Office.
While current bridge load limit signs feature four silhouettes of various types of large trucks to differentiate between different axle configurations, new signs will now show bridge weight limits under the categories, “2 axle,” “3 axle” and so on up to “6+ axle.” The silhouette of a semitrailer will remain.
The change was brought about after the Federal Highway Administration mandated that a separate weight limit measurement be included for “special haul vehicles.” As part of its yearly inspection of the 378 bridges in Allen County, the Allen County Engineer’s Office took this new category into account in its inspections and calculations, according to Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes.
“This is a haul vehicle that has additional axles that drop down to allow them to haul heavier loads,” he said. “We had to do load calculations to determine what the weight limits on those bridges are to accommodate those trucks.”
The Engineer’s Office did receive about $10,000 in federal funding to help cover the cost of the additional weight limit calculations, Rhodes said.
Having weight limits posted is essential to ensure commuter safety, according to Rhodes.
“This is going to help accommodate for those newer vehicles out there,” he said.
Currently, 10 bridges in Allen County require load limit signs because of deterioration, located on Grubb Road and Shaffer Road in Amanda Township, Kemp Road in American Township, Acadia, Kiggins and State Roads in Marion Township, Wentz Road in Monroe Township, Swaney Road in Richland Township, Breese Road in Shawnee Township, and in Gomer in Sugar Creek Township.
According to Rhodes, replacing a bridge can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on its type and size, and with several bridges reaching the end of their viable life spans, that could represent significant costs to the county in the future.
“We do currently have about 80 bridges that are approaching that 50-year lifespan, so the funding that we’ll need to replace those in the future is pretty large,” he said.