Section 35. No bridge on a public highway having a span in excess of ten feet, except a bridge constructed under the provisions of chapter one hundred and fifty-nine, shall be constructed or reconstructed by any county or town except in accordance with plans and specifications therefor approved by the department. Said department shall approve or alter to meet its approval all such plans submitted to it and shall determine the maximum load which any such bridge may safely carry, and the department or the local authorities having control of such bridge shall, if such bridge was constructed prior to June first, nineteen hundred and sixty, and may, if such bridge was constructed at a later date, maintain notices not less than one hundred feet from each end thereof and legible at a distance of fifty feet stating the maximum weight of vehicle with load which the bridge will safely carry. Any such bridge which is not posted for the said maximum weight by June first, nineteen hundred and seventy-five, shall immediately thereafter be posted by the department or the local authorities having control of such bridge with signs placed as provided herein restricting travel across such bridge to vehicles weighing three tons or less. Each such bridge so restricted shall be reported forthwith to the department, and the department shall maintain a current list of all such bridges. The owner of a vehicle operated on any bridge posted under this or the preceding section shall be responsible for all damage resulting thereto if the weight of the vehicle and load exceeds the maximum load as posted under this or the preceding section, as the case may be, and the amount of the damage may be recovered in an action at law by the person or authorities charged with the maintenance of the bridge. Any person operating a vehicle the weight of which, with its load, exceeds the maximum weight as posted under this section or section thirty-four shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, unless said vehicle is being operated in accordance with the terms of a special permit issued under the provisions of sections thirty and thirty A.