Disappearing signs trouble county officials

Friday, September 21, 2012
With only a vacant beam of iron standing at each end, motorists on County Road 800 North no longer have any indication that Bridge 240 has a three-ton weight limit. County officials are examining ways to deal with the ongoing disappearance of the signs.

The recurring disappearance of weight limit signs for a bridge on the Jackson-Floyd township line is causing a serious liability issue for the Putnam County Commissioners.

Bridge 240, located at approximately 8000 E. CR 800 North, has been the topic of discussion at previous Putnam County Commissioners and North Putnam School Board meetings.

The three-ton weight limit of the bridge makes it troublesome for school buses, farm equipment and other large vehicles using the road.

An even bigger problem for Putnam County, though, is the signs have been repeatedly disappearing recently.

Even mounting the signs on heavy, anchored I-beams did not stop the sign thieves. As of early this week, the beams remained in place, but the signs had been removed.

County officials suspect the disappearances are not the work of mischievous teenagers, but of someone inconvenienced by the inability to use that section of the road with vehicles in excess of three tons.

The idea is that if the signs are posted, any damage or collapse of the bridge is considered the responsibility of the driver.

If, however, weight limit signs are not posted, the liability is on the owner of the bridge -- Putnam County.

While the inconvenience of the issue has been troubling to North Putnam officials, the school has found a way around the bridge, not wanting to risk the safety of students and school employees.

Officials aren't so sure others are exhibiting the same wisdom.

Disgusted at the ongoing problem in his own district, Commissioners Gene Beck suggested an easy solution.

"My opinion on it is we ought to close it until they bring the signs back," a perturbed Beck said at Monday's commissioners meeting. "This is a liability issue and the commissioners own that bridge."

Bliss McKnight Inc., the county's risk management agent, was on site to examine the bridge and suggest a course of action for the county.

Commissioners are likely to follow whatever course Bliss McKnight suggests.

The commissioners addressed several other road-related issues on Monday.

* They unanimously approved a cap on highway spending in each of the three commissioners' districts. The new rule means that the highway department cannot perform a project at the behest of one commissioner.

Highway projects must be approved by a majority vote of the commissioners.

* Two residents were on hand with complaints about county road conditions. The road in question were County Road 825 East in Jackson Township and County Road 225 East in Monroe Township.

* The revised county speed limit ordinance has been delayed by the addition of several roads. When the ordinance has again been advertised, it will come back to the commissioners for another vote.

* The county will no longer supply the stone for school bus turnarounds. If the school corporation pays for the material, the highway department will still haul the stone to the location.

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  • With a juvenile comment like that from Gene Beck, maybe it isn't the bridge they have a problem with. lol Just sayin'.

    Why not put a temporary camera up somewhere close? Far less cost in the long run than continuing to put signs up.

    -- Posted by Emmes on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 11:54 AM
  • I think the camera is a great idea, but I think Mr. Beck's idea is better.

    -- Posted by interestedperson#1 on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 12:45 PM
  • Mr. Beck says, "the commissioners own that bridge." So if someone gets hurt do they sue the commissioners and them only? My money says it really belongs to the county!

    -- Posted by stealthmode on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 3:34 PM
  • It will be permanently closed and bridge deck removed in the very near future if signs don't appear. That's the latest I'm hearing. Commissioners ARE owners and responsible for bridges according to Indiana Code.

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 5:07 PM
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