Extra precautions in wake of Minneapolis bridge tragedy
In the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse, oversized trucks will not be allowed on the Throgs Neck Bridge without special permits, government officials said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the bridge is safe for drivers, but as part of a biannual inspection, some damage to the bridge was discovered.
As a result, a program that started two years ago for heavy trucks was rescinded.
The maximum vehicle weight on the bridge is 80,000 pounds, MTA spokeswoman Catherine Sweeney said Thursday. But the program allowed certain state-permitted trucks with six or seven axles weighing 105,000 pounds to travel in the center lane at 30 miles an hour at any time.
Now, those trucks must follow the same procedures as other overweight vehicles – apply for special handling permits, and travel over the bridge only at night.
Sweeney said some truck drivers have been ignoring the weight limit, so the MTA is stepping up enforcement on the bridge, which means using portable weight machines to test trucks that are might be too heavy.
The Throgs Neck bridge over the East River connects the Bronx with Queens.
The MTA oversees the city’s mass transit system, suburban Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road, and an assortment of city bridges and tunnels, including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, the Throgs Neck, the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
Last week, Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered state offices to examine New York’s 49 bridges with similar designs to the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota on Aug. 1. At least six people were killed and several others reported missing.
Spitzer said that the New York bridges are safe, but the state must be vigilant in future inspections and oversight.
“Even before the Minnesota disaster, which caused us to take additional precautionary steps, the state had set and adhered to the highest standards for bridge security – standards that surpass stringent federal requirements,” Spitzer said Wednesday.
He also said the state Department of Transportation would have a new five-year plan for highways and bridges by March that would likely show a need for more funding.