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VTrans to Post Bridge Weight Limits to Inform Emergency Vehicle Drivers

April 17, 2023

photo of narrow metal bridge in Montpelier Vermont with weight limit sign

On April 10, 2023. the Vermont Agency of Transportation announced that before July 30, 2023, it will install new signs on some municipal-owned bridges throughout the state showing weight limits for the benefit of emergency vehicles. Municipal-owned bridges are subject to the same requirements as state-owned bridges, as outlined in the Transportation Secretary Memo issued on January 19, 2022.

The announcement came in a letter from from Joe Flynn, Secretary of the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation. It says that under the federal law Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), and in response to a trend of trucks getting larger, some exceeding the weight of trucks that were in use when many bridges were designed, Vermont, along with all other states, is working to meet this Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirement by expanding necessary load ratings to include emergency vehicles and posting if required. Load ratings determine the effect that these heavier and larger trucks have on a bridge, the bridge's capacity to safely handle the load, and whether a posting is needed.

The goal is to ensure that emergency responders are aware of the potential safety concern as it relates to emergency vehicles. VTrans and the State of Vermont understand that this may cause additional burden to some municipalities. To assist in meeting this requirement, VTrans is performing the necessary load ratings and sign installations. A list of bridges that require posting will be provided to each municipality a minimum of three weeks prior to installing signs, providing bridge owners the opportunity for public notice if they so choose.

Read the complete VTrans letter, which includes an explanatory diagram and where to find further information.