New bridge restrictions limit Renton firetrucks

City considers alternatives for emergency vehicles near North Renton

New weight restrictions on the Williams Avenue, Houser Way and Nile Avenue Northeast bridges start May 16. This will prevent certain heavy trucks, both commercial and emergency response vehicles like ladder trucks, from using them.

At the May 6 transportation committee meeting, city staff alerted the Renton City Council of this change, and said it prevents the Renton Regional Fire Authority ladder trucks from using the bridges.

Fire Chief Rick Marshall said the fire authority had a meeting with fire staff to determine what this weight restriction means for ladder truck response. Marshall said since these bridges are used when ladder trucks are returning to fire station 11 from calls to North Renton, the fire authority determined there’s little or no impact.

The fire authority will work with the city to get those bridges back to handling the ladder trucks, Marshall said, but there are lots of route options. The fire authority could work to get a permit for the ladder trucks, but it’s not financially feasible given the low use of those bridges, he said.

“For us it’s a non-issue,” Marshall said.

The bridges were re-graded as a result of new Federal Highway Administration regulations.

The three bridges were built in the 1950s and early ’60s. The city reviewed all the bridges and a structural engineer performed the new bridge load ratings to meet an updated criteria.

Public Works Administrator Gregg Zimmerman assured councilmembers that there is already grant money in place to retrofit Williams Avenue and Houser Way bridges, which they can use to get them back up to standard for larger vehicles.

For now, however, the bridges will be restricted to the new limits.

The restriction only limits certain heavy commercial and emergency response vehicles. Other automobiles and pickup trucks below the listed weight can still use the bridges. The maximum weights will be posted at each bridge.