Under a new Georgia law following the passage of House Bill 189, the allowable weight limit for trucks hauling forestry and other agricultural products is now 88,000 lbs. However, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) claims many of the bridges in the state cannot handle the new limits and 733 bridges are set to be officially posted by Sept. 2.
GDOT’s Deputy Chief Engineer Andrew Heath made the announcement at a July 20 board meeting stating that a statewide assessment was required by law with the increase to allowable haul weights. Of the total number of posted bridges announced, 306 of those bridges are state-owned and 427 are locally owned. Local governments were to be notified by GDOT no later than Aug. 3 about the locally owned bridges that will be posted. Specific information regarding the exact location, posted weight limit, or how many of the bridges were posted before was not provided by GDOT.
“GDOT was a prominent participant in those debates and discussions regarding that bill [HB 189] and one of the things we communicated during that time was requirements and activities we would be required to carry out pending the passage of that bill,” said GDOT Deputy Chief Engineer Andrew Heath. (see Heath’s full comments at the GDOT Board Meeting here →)
Following the announcement GFA submitted an Open Records Request to GDOT for the location and posted weights for each of the 733 bridges in question. The map, linked below, was created using the data they provided for the updated bridge postings, data pulled from GDOT’s website on posted bridges prior to HB 189 passing, and data on the location of forestry operations along the supply chain. The map focuses just on the impact on the forestry industry, highlighting only changes to posted weights for log trucks.
Map 1: Bridge postings and corresponding forest industry presence across the state (note: You may use the tools on the right side of the map to toggle layers, and the search functionality will allow you to zoom in on a specific location. Click here to view the map on ArcGIS online →)
Upon analysis, it was determined only 150 bridges were already posted for some type of truck before and 433 bridges did not have a “timber” posted weight previously, meaning they were not posted for log trucks. As shown in the table below, 29 percent or 207 of the bridges are even posted above 80,000 lbs. for log trucks, and the vast majority are posted below 60,000 lbs.
GFA is monitoring the bridge postings closely and evaluating the impact on our industry. We will continue to keep you informed while working to ensure our forest markets remain healthy by addressing these challenges to the harvest and logistics sector.
If you have any questions, please reach out to:
President & CEO
Forest Policy Coordinator