County fears liability from overweight trucks

Clinton County Engineer Todd Kinney tells county supervisors Monday that he has concerns about a bill that would allow overweight trucks on county roads. Winona Whitaker/Clinton Herald

CLINTON — Legislation that would allow overweight trucks on county roads could cause added liability for the county, County Engineer Todd Kinney told the Clinton County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

Senate File 184 would allow the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue permits for overweight loads of raw forest products not only on state highways, but also on county roads if those roads are the most direct route, Kinney said.

Raw forest products include logs, pilings, posts, poles, cordwood products, wood chips, sawdust, fuel wood, mulch, tree bark and Christmas trees not altered by a manufacturing process.

The bill provides for trucks to weigh up to 130,000. That's 50,000 pounds over legal truck weight, Kinney said.

The county is concerned about liability relating to the weight limit of bridges on those roads. "We won't have a chance to evaluate the bridges for this load by the time the legislation takes over, if it does," Kinney said.

Currently any overweight permit for county roads are issued by the county, Kinney said. The new law would allow trucks with permits from the state to transport raw forest products from fields to storage, processing or other commercial facilities on non-primary highways if those highways are the shortest route.

"There are going to be a subset of bridges that won't be rated" for that weight, Kinney said. "Right now we rate them for six different trucks." If heavier trucks are going to use the county's roads, bridges will have to be rated for those loads as well.

"I've already emailed our legislators about my concerns," Kinney said.

Supervisors have also talked to legislators, Supervisor Dan Srp said. "We did register opposition to this already as a board."

Rep. Mary Wolfe called Srp before the committee meeting to discuss the bill and asked what the board's position is, Srp said, so she knows what the county's concerns are.

Lobbyists for the Iowa State Association of Counties, the Iowa State Association of Supervisors and BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad have declared their opposition to the bill.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.