To the editor:
With recent confusion, misinformation and probably very costly work being done on many bridges in the Brown County area, a recent event got me thinking about how our roads may be abused by commercial vehicles ignoring the posted weight restrictions for the bridges.
While driving east near Yellowwood State Park along Green Valley Road and just before the Salt Creek Bridge (about the 1100 block of Green Valley Road), I met a concrete truck coming around a sharp corner (going much faster than it should have, by the way) and I wondered about the weight limits for the Salt Creek bridge. As I turned the corner, I noticed a 7-ton weight limit (14,000 pounds) on the bridge.
Having come from a construction background, I know the typical weight of a concrete truck empty is 13 tons (26,000 pounds). I was dismayed to see this truck using this bridge when there are other ways to approach this area and still adhere to the bridge weight limits (albeit, a little more driving time).
I phoned the Brown County Highway Department asking if they could do anything regarding the illegal use of bridges by commercial vehicles in the county. The superintendent was unavailable; however, I was told this should be reported to the sheriff’s office as they could ticket those vehicles. I called the sheriff’s office and dispatch indicated that I should call the highway department. So, not knowing what to do, I called the concrete company to discuss this violation (and to ask the trucks to slow down on these narrow roads).
The response from the concrete company was puzzling. To confirm the weight restrictions, the dispatcher called the highway department and was informed that the weight restriction was 14 tons (despite the 7-ton sign on both sides of bridge) or 28,000 pounds. And, he said, he was authorized to cross this bridge with 3 cubic yards of concrete. A cubic yard of concrete is about 4,000 pounds, therefore 12,000 pounds or 6 tons; i.e., the weight is 25 percent more than the “new weight limit” of the bridge. The dispatcher’s additional comment was, “I’ve been using these bridges for 45 years in this county!” I told him, “That still doesn’t make it right.”
All I can conclude is, these trucks, in direct violation of posted signs, have abused our bridges for years to save 10 minutes on delivery time. Also, who is charged with enforcing our bridge weight limits? How do you file an official complaint? Perhaps, any response to this letter can clarify the procedures.
Marylin Day, Pine Ridge Road
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