By JARED JERNAGAN
GREENCASTLE -- Semis using a northern Putnam County road as a shortcut have become a problem, and area residents are requesting the county do something about it.
County Highway supervisor Jim Smith presented the Putnam County Commissioners with a petition signed by 20 landowners on C.R. 425 East and 325 East, Roachdale, at Tuesday's meeting. The petition requested a weight limit of 5 tons on the road, which begins as 425 East in the south at S.R. 236 before jogging about a mile west and becoming 325 East before intersecting with County Line Road to the north.
Smith said he recommended a 10-ton limit, and believed the request of 5 tons to be an error.
According to Smith, the road has become a problem for the county, as it is not designed for heavy traffic from large trucks. However, trucks hauling grain and gravel use the road as a shortcut from 236 to County Line Road. It is a way for them to bypass Roachdale, particularly its railroad tracks.
He said the county recently spent about $15,000 repairing the road, but it is not likely to last.
"They destroyed it last year, and we got it back up to where it's a nice road," Smith said. "But it can't hold up to that traffic."
Commissioners initially expressed interest in making the change until some other potential issues came to light.
County Councilor Larry Parker was in the audience and asked how this would affect farmers who own land on the road. A 10-ton limit would prohibit them from driving loaded grain semis on the road.
"If a farmer has his grain contracted, he has to get it out," Parker said.
Commissioners Gene Beck and Jim Baird agreed. While the problem is obvious, the solution is not.
The petition actually had an addendum saying farmers with acreage on the road would be excluded. County attorney Scott Hoff said it could not work that way. It either applies to everyone, or it applies to no one.
Another suggestion was posting a sign saying the road is open only to local traffic.
With no obvious solution at this time, commissioners asked Hoff to consider the various legal solutions and report back at their next meeting.
Smith also came before the commissioners with a speed limit ordinance for the area around Houck Covered Bridge. The ordinance would lower the speed limit in the area to 35 miles per hour. It is currently 45.
Commissioners will take no action on the issue until it has been advertised in the Banner Graphic.