Buses cleared to cross aging bridge

Posted on March 27, 2012

MISSOULA COUNTY, Mont. — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) said Friday that fully loaded buses can cross Maclay Bridge, an aging one-lane structure over a river with a weight limit that was downgraded from 14 tons to 11 tons last year, the Missoulian reports.

Four school buses cross the bridge each day, and it's also used when transporting students on field trips. Missoula County had banned Type I fire trucks more than a year ago pending results of an MDT analysis, but forgot to request an analysis of the school buses, according to county engineer Erik Dickson.

Dickson submitted the bus dimensions from contractor Beach Transportation to the state transportation department in February. The buses, when loaded with 40 elementary-age students, are nearly 11 tons. The department has since determined that it is safe for the buses to travel on the bridge regularly at the posted speed limit of 15 mph.

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