Commissioners remove load limits from county roads

By Taylor Risse

At the March 18 Bennett County Commissioner meeting, the board decided to remove the load limits from the county roads upon great persistence from county residents.

On March 13, the Bennett County Highway Department and Board of Commissioners issued a county-wide load limit on all roads in Bennett County. The limit was set at six ton per axle and was not to exceed 80,000 pounds GVW.

Josh Fanning, General Manager of Lacreek Electric, presented his issue with the load limits. Fanning stated that Lacreek can’t take the digger trucks across the roads with the load limits as is.

Local resident Levi Mosher was at the meeting to express his significant discontent with the board’s load limits. Mosher began with the argument that, the board is asking everyone to shut down their operations by the limits they’ve put on the roads.

Mosher suggested blocking off roads that have an alternate route, fixing them and then opening the roads back up. If there is a road that doesn’t have an alternate route, it becomes priority to get fixed.

Commissioner Judd Schomp stated that it’s pretty simple to see where the bad spots in the roads will be, if there is water in the ditches, you’re going to find sink holes. Schomp explained that oversized rock is $726 a load and a load doesn’t go very far in a soft spot.

Highway Superintendent Justin Friese told everyone that there are approximately five to six new sink holes popping up throughout the county every day. Friese said they are fixing roughly one hole a day because of how far they have to travel to get oversized rock.

Chairman Jeff Slattery gave a report of what happened last week, south of Tuthill when a truck got stuck on 298th street. Slattery stated that after the truck got stuck and was pulled out, there is now a 200 yard portion in the road that is almost impassable with a four wheel drive pickup. Slattery continued that one truck did all that damage and now all the neighbors in that area will suffer.

Schomp added that, “If we don’t put a load limit on the roads and get people to slow down and use their heads, then the roads are going to dictate their own load limit.”

Friese included in the conversation that the highway crew is working as fast as they can but they only have five guys.

Mosher added that car traffic is tearing the roads up right now with the load limits.

Buddy Bolzer asked the board why they don’t look at hiring outside help for the roads since the highway crew is so busy. 

The board told him they were planning on discussing that later in the meeting.

Josh Fanning said, “I don’t think anyone here disagrees that the roads need a limit.”

Jason Fanning asked how are they going to know when the trucks are over loaded because the county has no scales.

Slattery said that no, they can’t enforce it very well, it was put in place to make people think a little before they went and tore the roads up.

Slattery told the public, they’ll take the weight limits off but don’t whine when you can’t get out because the trucks have the roads tore up.

Sue Lewis-Nies asked about the road that the truck got stuck in south of Tuthill. Lewis-Nies asked, “Didn’t In Law Construction work on that road?”

Kirk answered that the truck got stuck where the road hadn’t been worked on. “Wherever they [In Law Construction] worked on is good.”

Roz Bolzer asked if the board would let the public know what is going on to help justify the decisions they make and put the people at ease.

Josh Fanning asked if the commission has a long term plan for the county roads?

Schomp answered that plan number one is pulling shoulders to get rid of curb and gutter.

When it comes to driving on the roads Kirk said, “It’s a strictly common sense issue.” 

See March 25, 2020, Issue for Full Article

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