Pa. Farm Bureau members frustrated with bridge weight restrictions

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CAMP HILL, Pa. — Officials at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) say moving food from the farm to the supermarket, processor and the feed mill is becoming more difficult and costly for farmers across Pennsylvania due to a deteriorating road and bridge system.

Despite the likelihood of higher user fees or taxes, farmers are urging the state General Assembly to approve a spending plan that will adequately fund the Commonwealth’s transportation system.

Rural lifeline

“Farmers depend upon the sufficient maintenance of roads and bridges in order to keep products flowing to and from the farm,” said PFB President Carl T.

Shaffer

“The cost of operating a family farm can increase substantially when milk trucks, feed trucks and other essential deliveries are forced to travel longer distances due to road and bridge repairs.”

Weight restrictions

Citing insufficient funding, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently announced it was placing new or increased weight restrictions on 1,000 structurally deficient bridges. This brings the total count of state and local bridges that are still open, but restricted to lower weights, to more than 3,200.

“With the limited resources we have, we have to slow down the aging process of some of these bridges. We simply can’t afford to repair all of these bridges,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, during an interview with the Farm Bureau.

Costs will double

York County farmer Andy Flinchbaugh estimates his overall fuel costs will double.

“I’ll need to travel twice the distance I normally travel and it will take double the amount of time to arrive at my destination using an alternative route that avoids weight restricted bridges,” said Flinchbaugh, who transports corn and soybeans to businesses in Lancaster County.

The Farm Bureau noted its members support efforts to provide additional funding to improve road and bridge conditions across the state, even if it means they’ll have to pay higher taxes or fees to pay for transportation improvements.

“If we don’t spend any money or try to generate funds to fix what we have now, we’re just going to keep adding to the number of roads and bridges that need to be repaired, making it even harder for me and other farmers to deliver our food to our customers,” said Flinchbaugh.

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