HOOD RIVER, ORE. – During its February 21, 2023 meeting the Port of Hood River Board of Commissioners approved a resolution restoring the load limits for trucks on the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate bridge, following a two-year effort. The restored limits will be posted at 25 tons for Type 3 vehicles, 40 tons for Type 3S2 and Type 3-3, 27 tons for the SU4, 31 tons for the SU5, 34 tons for the SU6, 38 tons for the SU7 vehicles, 28 tons for the EV2 and 29 tons for the EV3. (See vehicle type descriptions here).
On March 3, 2021, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) imposed a lower load rating on the bridge as a result of a directive by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requiring all states to evaluate the structural capacity of all bridges to carry Specialized Hauling Vehicles (single-unit trucks with closely spaced, multiple axles) and other load factors.
The Port’s bridge engineering firm, HDR, oversaw the required bridge reinforcement projects as well as live-load testing and other engineering analysis needed to restore the prior load limits. On February 17, 2023, the Port received a letter from the ODOT Bridge Engineering section informing that the load limits could be restored to their prior levels for all classes of vehicle except for the EV3, a specific emergency response vehicle.
When it went into effect in 2021, the lowered load rating affected most classes of trucks, and the caused significant operating cost increases for local haulers. During the February 21, 2023 meeting, the Commission heard public comment from logistics representatives from James Dean Construction, Hood River Sand & Gravel, Mountain Forest Products, and Mount Adams Fruit companies, who described the significant operating cost increases for local haulers, as well the loss of overall competitiveness with other companies located closer to bridges with higher load limits. While the ODOT approval allowed the Commission to raise the limit on the bridge, it did not compel them to do so, and approval of a formal resolution was required. Each of the company representatives spoke in favor of restoring the limit.
The approved resolution kept in place the 15 m.p.h. speed limit that has been in place since May of last year, an important step to reduce the wear and tear on the bridge deck and the steel bridge structure, especially by heavy haul trucks. New load limit signs will be posted on I-84 and SR 14 as well as the north and south approaches to the bridge in the next few weeks.