9 Investigates: Overweight trucks safety concern for bridges

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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SOUTH CAROLINA - An Eyewitness News camera caught a large truck rumbling over a bridge on Lincoln Road in York County.
 
The truck shouldn't be there at all.
 
"It's always about public safety, always,” said Lee Floyd with the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
 
Floyd oversees more than 8,000 state bridges in South Carolina.
 
Too many overweight trucks can cut the life of a bridge in half, or even more.
 
In a picture of a bridge on Harrisburg Road in Lancaster County, a support beam is visibly split.  In May, DOT ordered an emergency shutdown. They said trucks crossing illegally were largely to blame.
 
The state usually restricts vehicle weight on a bridge when it starts to weaken.
 
In York, Chester and Lancaster counties, there were around 50 weight-restricted bridges.
 
When Eyewitness News was doing an interview with Floyd, he looked over at the Channel 9 news truck and was concerned it might be too heavy to cross the bridge.
 
Channel 9 checked and looking in the door panel of the truck, it's not too heavy for the bridge Eyewitness News crossed, but at 11,000 pounds, it is too heavy for some restricted bridges.
 
One on Lincoln Road is limited to 8 tons and school buses can’t cross it legally.
 
"We have to detour and go around to pick up students,” said Clover School bus driver Angie Neely.
 
It’s a hassle for Neely, but at least she follows the rules. Still, she wants it fixed.

“Why, on a main road that's used to get back and forth between York and Clover, would you not change the bridge?" Neely asked.
 
DOT said the reason comes down to cost and that's where enforcement comes in.
 
State transport police inspecting and weighing 18-wheelers on the interstates, are responsible for the back roads, too.
 
“Imagine how many cars are going up and down the road speeding and they never get stopped.  It's really the same with a posted bridge,” said Mike Still of the Transport Police.
 
Still said some trucking companies ignore weight restrictions and there are few officers on the roads to stop them.
 
"Generally there's at least one guy in each county.  Sometimes not as many,” he said.
 
Officers cited only 42 drivers in York County, three in Lancaster and one in Chester.
 
Those numbers not only reflect their staffing, but when word gets out that they’re targeting an area, he said trucks stay away.
 
"We're doing the best we can with the manpower we have,” Still said.
 
Experts said bridges are safe if drivers obey the signs.
 
Police need you to report overweight trucks and tell them where drivers are breaking the law.