County enacts rules to protect roads, bridges

Friday, March 8, 2013

With an eye to the effects large vehicles can have on county roads and historic bridges, the Putnam County Commissioners have passed a pair of ordinances restricting travel that could be detrimental to the county's infrastructure.

The first ordinance passed Monday restricts trucks and semi-tractor trailers from certain county roads that contain historic covered bridges. The second, called a freeze-thaw ordinance, gives the county the ability to temporarily restrict travel on certain roads when weather conditions make it necessary.

The covered bridge ordinance spells out specific weight and height limits for nine different stretches of county road, one for each of the county's covered bridges.

Each bridge has a height limit of 10 feet. The weight limits vary, and are as follows: as follows:

1. Dunbar Bridge, CR 25 South between CR 125 West and CR 300 West: 7 tons.

2. Oakalla Bridge, CR 375 West between CR 300 South and CR 225 South: 4 tons.

3. Houck Covered Bridge, CR 550 South between CR 450 West and CR 525 South: 8 tons

4. Dick Huffman Bridge, CR 1050 South, west to CR 1075 South/600 West: 8 tons.

5. Edna Collings Bridge, CR 450 North between CR 690 West and CR 825 West: 6 tons.

6. Baker's Camp Bridge, CR 650 North between U.S. 36 and CR 475 East: 8 tons.

7. Rolling Stone Bridge, CR 800 North between CR 250 East and CR 500 East: 5 tons.

8. Pine Bluff Bridge, CR 900 North/950 North between CR 250 East and CR 500 East: 6 tons.

9. Corn Stalk Bridge, CR 1350 North between CR 275 West and CR 1400 North: 8 tons.

The county has dealt with a number of instances of damage to the historic bridges in recent years when trucks too large for the openings attempted to travel through them anyway.

The new law comes with fines for violators at a minimum of $100 and maximum of $1,000.

Officials hope posting limits at the end of roads will eliminate or reduce the problem.

The freeze/thaw ordinance will have an effect on the same types of vehicles. Commissioners enacted the regulation with the spring season in mind.

With the freezing and thawing cycles of late winter and spring, roads can become soft, leaving them especially susceptible to damage by heavy vehicles.

The new ordinance sets no specific dates or weight limits, but gives officials the ability to enact specific limits when they deem it necessary. When it is deemed necessary, the county may enact specific restrictions on specific roads for up to 90 days.

The restrictions go into effect upon the posting of the weight limit signs.

Like the covered bridge ordinance, violations are subject to a maximum fine of $1,000. A violation is also considered a Class B infraction.

The subject of soft gravel roads was addressed again later in the meeting when county highway co-supervisor Clint Maddox addressed calls the highway receives over problems with the county roads.

While the weather makes many of the roads a mess during this time of year, getting to every bit of road takes some time.

The county has 243 miles of gravel roads and properly working a county road can take four passes on a grader, bringing the total mileage to 972.

Divide those miles among the three graders for an average of 324 miles for each one to cover. At an average speed of 3 mph, the job can be time-consuming.

He also said each grader uses an average of 60 gallons of fuel per day. At a price of $3.75 per gallon, that is a fuel cost of $675 per day to keep all three running.

Maddox also addressed some of the same issues the county hopes to take care of with the freeze/thaw ordinance. Graders weigh approximately 42,000 pounds, while loaded tandem trucks weigh approximately 60,000 pounds. These weights far exceed what needs to be on a soft gravel road.

"When it's extremely soft, we don't even need to be there," Maddox said. "We're doing more damage than good."

He added that he understands the frustration of residents with the roads, as he also deals with it daily.

"I live on a gravel road and it hasn't got to my house yet either," Maddox said.

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  • I hate to tell them, my road is no longer gravel... It's mud. Deep mud. Had to have a neighbor with a tractor pull me out of the middle of the road. 200N north of Fillmore. At some point we are going to need to put away the band aids for these roads and actually fix them. I remember reading somewhere they were taking money from the "gravel fund" to pay for something else. I know Mr Maddox is doing all he can with what he has, but he has a tough job! I hope they can find the road in May when they get here. It may blend in with the farm fields and dirt.

    -- Posted by T5773fmore on Sat, Mar 9, 2013, at 9:31 PM
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