Barry County Road Commision Managing Director Brad Lamberg Nov. 20 asked Barry County Commissioners for support of a resolution opposing Senate bill 396 that exempts the forestry industry from load limits on county roads during spring thaws.
Lamberg said the bill will increase Michigan’s already highest load limits in the Midwest. He presented a County Road Association of Michigan chart that showed Michigan’s limit of 164,000 gross weight vehicles on the roads, with the next highest North Dakota at about 120,000 gross weights.
During the seasonal weight restrictions of 110,000 gross weights, Michigan allows more weight on the local road and bridge system than any other Midwest state under normal, legal weight restrictions, according to the chart.
The bill, if passed, would give loggers freedom from any weight height and length restrictions on Michigan’s county road system. “Michigan logging trucks already get favorable load limits on the local road system,” Lamberg said.
The resolution opposing Senate Bill 396 contains the line:
“It is a fact in Barry County and throughout the northern states that all roads become soft in the spring as frost melts and applying unrestricted 164,000-pound truck loading and traffic on soft roads, whether paved or unpaved, is poor public policy that defies common sense when it comes to road preservation, and will lead to significant damage to the road system, economic damage in Barry County and increased risk to drivers in our region…”
Lamberg said the spring weight restriction in the county, usually four or five weeks, “could be worked around with a little planning by the industry.”
A Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill said if forestry vehicles traveling on gravel roads were exempt from seasonal weight restrictions, “rural counties with active forestry industry could see accelerated wear on those roads. Depending on the severity of that erosion, repair costs for counties could range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. It is also likely that the counties would be unable to plan for these additional costs.”
The report notes that road commissions could require a $2,000 bond for each mile traveled, adding that the bill does not outline consequences for nonpayment of the bond.
The committee of the whole recommended approval of the resolution; the commission is expected to approve it at its Nov. 27 regular board meeting.