ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) is posting new weight restrictions on more than 700 bridges across the state to comply with legislation the General Assembly passed this year allowing higher truck weights.

Capitol Beat News Service
This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

House Bill 189, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May, lets some commercial trucks exceed the previous legal weight limit of 80,000 pounds by 10% on roads other than federal highways, which are subject to federal limits.

The 10% exemption letting trucks run with up to 88,000 pounds of cargo applies only to trucks hauling agricultural products – including livestock – and logs. However, the exemption does not apply in the 13-county Atlanta region.

The bill, which passed over the objections of the DOT, has touched off a flurry of activity by the transportation agency to comply with federal deadlines, Andrew Heath, the DOT’s deputy chief engineer, told members of the State Transportation Board this week.

The department must complete a load rating analysis of about 15,000 bridges across Georgia by Aug. 3 and post signs on bridges that lack the carrying capacity to handle the heavier trucks allowed under the new law by Sept. 2, Heath said. Failing to comply would subject the state to losing federal transportation funding, he said.

“We have to do it structure by structure,” Heath said. “It’s a heavy lift. … We have some work to do.”

Heath said 733 additional bridges beyond the 1,363 already posted before the adoption of House Bill 189 will have to post signs warning drivers of overweight trucks not to cross. The DOT is working to develop a map to guide the state Department of Public Safety in rerouting overweight trucks.

The work will require 1,500 new signs, Heath said. The agency has completed more than 250 thus far, he said.

Health said the DOT is on track to meet both the August and September deadlines.

This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, an initiative of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.