County lowers load limit on Buffalo Rd. bridge

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Supervisors approved lowering the legal load limit on a bridge on Buffalo Road in Fairview Township. County Engineer Derek Snead, who spoke to the board during their June 13 meeting, recommended lowering the limit.

     Snead explained the bridge itself is not the issue, but that the two-lane bridge currently does not meet the new established standards for the weight of truck axles.

     This bridge will now be posted for 22, 34, and 40 tons for an indefinite amount of time. Snead said by 2020, all bridges will have to be re-rated to account for the heavy equipment traveling over these structures.

     “This is on a paved road and we need enough width for two vehicles,” Snead said. The bridge is 26 feet wide, but with the new weight and size of the truck traffic, Snead indicated that the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate two lanes of passing vehicles.

     With the approval of this resolution, Snead said it would no doubt affect some businesses that utilize the Buffalo Road bridge hauling heavy loads. Those would include Weber Stone Co. and Ricklefs Excavating.

     “I’m sure this will have a very large impact with multiple contracting companies in that area,” he told the board.

     Buffalo Road has a traffic count of roughly 650 vehicles a day, making it a very busy road.

     “That’s pretty extreme and high for one of our paved roads,” commented Snead.

     In addition to the contractors working in the Buffalo Road area, there are also a lot of farming operations that use the bridge in question.

     Up until now, Snead said the Buffalo Road bridge was legal for two lanes of traffic, and was not top on the Secondary Roads bridge replacement list. However, he said the new truck axle configuration numbers would make it a good candidate for replacement.

     “Because of these restrictions,” he said, “it would definitely be a candidate for a 70-foot slab bridge.”

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach warned Snead that Weber and Ricklefs would no doubt be pushing for a new bridge in the near future versus a 5- or 6-mile detour. Part of that detour would have these contractors traveling along Violet Road, which Supervisor Ned Rohwedder said is not very conducive to truck traffic.

     Snead indicated that if the bridge were reduced to a single-lane bridge, it might be of legal load limit. But, he preferred the supervisors pass the load limit resolution until his office could put together more information on the alternative.

     “We’ll start with this and see if we need to go down to one lane,” Snead said. “Traffic would have to adhere to it and we’d have to put up additional signage.

     “But this is our recommendation at this point in time,” Snead concluded.


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