Vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds are restricted from crossing to reduce wear on the historic Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, these restrictions are violated daily with no consequences, including trucks and school buses. School buses can weigh up to 23,000 pounds, nearly four times higher than the three-ton limit.

According to Streetsblog USA, hundreds of trucks traversed the bridge one afternoon, 52 outfitted with commercial truck license plates. Topping the list of personal sport utility vehicles (SUV) was 30 Chevrolet Suburbans, weighing in at a combined 234,000 pounds. Other privately owned SUVs in the top 10 included 31 Cadillac Escalades at 220,100 pounds, 15 Mercedes Sprinter Cargos at 165,000 pounds, and 27 Tesla Model X trucks at 162,000 pounds. The combined weight of over 160 SUVs crossing the 141-year landmark in one day exceeded 1.3 million pounds.

When traveling, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is among those contributing. He is driven in a 2023 Chevrolet Suburban High Country with a curb weight of more than 5,800 pounds. With the mayor’s entourage, its weight exceeds 6,000 pounds.

The Brooklyn Bridge was built to withstand the weight of freight trains and is estimated to hold 17,000 tons at any given time. Despite this, the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) reports the bridge, which would cost $2.3 billion to replace, has never earned above a “fair” rating.

In the past, the city has voiced concerns about the structural integrity of the span. In response to questions regarding widening the bridge in 2017, the DOT said the bridge’s aging cables required study before any considerations could be made. Despite removing one lane to accommodate a two-way bike path, the bridge may still be subjected to heavier weights as cars are simply getting heavier.

There are currently 100 vehicles on the market exceeding 6,000 pounds when occupied by two passengers. This is an important figure as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows for deductions of heavy vehicles as a business expense when put into service rather than depreciating over time. Car enthusiasts appear to be taking advantage of the benefits, as evidenced by reports of recent increases in SUV and truck sales.

The effects on New York City as well have not gone unnoticed. In April 2023, a parking garage in the Financial District partially collapsed under weight pressures, killing one resident and injuring five others and prompting the evacuation of several neighboring buildings. The collapse initiated evaluations of parking garages throughout the city.

In an attempt to enforce weight restrictions on the Brooklyn Bridge, the city has posted New York Police Department Officers on the Brooklyn side to monitor traffic and stem the flow of overweight vehicles.

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