By Grace King, GTNS News
Henry County supervisors approved a resolution strongly urging Iowa lawmakers to vote in opposition to legislation that would allow the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue permits to forestry industry haulers for loads up to 130,000 pounds on primary and nonprimary highways.
Senate Study bill 1045 and Senate File 184 were passed by the Senate Committee on transportation. The Henry County resolution was sent to local legislators and to Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Jake Hotchkiss, county engineer, is mainly concerned about how the bill will affect local bridges.
“Henry County is not financially able to repair or replace bridges, which would be subjected to accelerated deterioration,” Hotchkiss read in the resolution during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
The bill would not require notice to be given if a permit were issued by the IDOT allowing a load of 130,000 pounds to travel through Henry County and could result in gradual or even sudden failure of a bridge within the county, Hotchkiss said.
“Henry County would likely bear the legal and financial liability for subsequent failure of its bridges, even if failures are caused by loads they did not permit,” Hotchkiss said.
Hotchkiss said bridges in Henry County have been designed for loads that were legal at the time of their construction, and bridges have only been rated or posted with weight restrictions for loads that are currently legal on roads.
Hotchkiss said that each bridge in Henry County is unique in its age, design and current condition. Rating each bridge would cost the county undue funds.
“We’re trying to get the message out,” Hotchkiss said. “We’re concerned because it has moved outside the Ways and Means Committee and is eligible to be voted on.”
Hotchkiss said Henry County does see a lot of logging activities within the county. Permits for loads of up to 130,000 pounds need to be looked at on an individual basis and permitted based on the route they’re using.
Hotchkiss said they have county permits they currently issue and can control what routes overweight loads can take.
In other news, the Henry County Roads Department focused their resources on spot rocking various locations last week.
“We’ve been putting a big push on trying to get rock out there spotted,” Hotchkiss said. “The roads are better than they were last week because they’re dried out on top, but we still don’t have all the frost out yet. Until that frost goes out completely, we’re still at the mercy of the weather.”
Hotchkiss said with anticipated warmer temperatures, he expects all frost to be melted in the next couple of weeks. Overall, roads have greatly improved; however, that could change “rather quickly” with rain, he said.