Police: Driver damaged Pa. covered bridge with overweight truck

A truck driver has been criminally charged with allegedly crossing a South Whitehall Township bridge last week with a fuel tanker that exceeded the bridge's weight restriction by more than 56,000 pounds.

An officer from the South Whitehall Township Police Department heard “loud banging and cracking sounds” as the truck and tanker, both registered to Lehigh Petroleum, crossed the covered bridge on Wehr Mill Road shortly before 11 a.m. last Friday, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The officer weighed the vehicle and fuel and found they totaled 76,360 pounds, well over the bridge’s 20,000-pound weight limit, police said.

The truck’s driver, 48-year-old Robert Wolkowicz, saw but disregarded signs advertising the limit, the officer claimed in the affidavit.

The bridge was shut down for safety reasons, and PennDOT engineers have advised it needs to remain closed until it can be properly inspected, police said.

Wolkowicz, of Coopersburg, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday and was arraigned on charges of felony criminal mischief and violating restrictions on the use of highways and bridges, a summary offense.

He was released on $20,000 unsecured bond and is next due in court Aug. 19 for a preliminary hearing. If convicted, Wolkowicz faces a fine of $16,200 plus costs.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.