Bridge Weight Restrictions

"NEW" Vehicle Weight Restrictions

Presently Whatcom County is in the process of obtaining new load ratings for all bridges 20 feet and over in length as directed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Nationally, all state and local governments are evaluating publicly owned vehicle bridges using new federally mandated criteria and determining whether additional vehicle weight restrictions must be placed on bridges.


Whatcom County (WC) owns, inspects, and maintains 162 bridges. WC also provides routine bridge inspection services to other local municipalities (City of Bellingham, City of Lynden, City of Sumas, City of Everson, and San Juan County).

Bridge Inspection History

The catastrophic failure of Ohio's Silver Bridge in December 1967, during a pre-holiday rush hour sparked a national program aimed at monitoring the safety of the county's bridges. By 1971, the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) was issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The NBIS established a national policy for uniform inspection procedures and schedules. A 1988 amendment to the NBIS required that all bridges be rated for load capacity and that bridges that do not meet the standard criteria be posted with their restricted load amounts. Load ratings are determined based on the as-built structural elements and the results of field condition inspection, and are performed according to standard practices developed by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Bridge Load Limits and Permits

  • Whatcom County's Map showing Weight Restricted Bridges has been updated. Restricted Bridges Map (Weight, height, and width).
      • Restricted Bridges Map does not include city or state bridges.
  • Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) disclaimer that WSDOT bridge structures are not covered under county Over-legal Permit and Visa Versa. WSDOT Over-Legal Permits