Towns look to enforce weight limits on roads
KEWAUNEE COUNTY - Elected officials from nine of Kewaunee County’s 10 towns attended a meeting March 30 in Pierce Town Hall to discuss what they want in a letter that would be sent to every farm operator and contractor regarding use of town roads in the county.
Door County town of Forestville Chairman Roy Englebert also attended the meetings. Only the town of Montpelier was not represented, due to other events scheduled at the same time.
Town leaders agreed to disallow any loads on town roads heavier than 92,000 pounds, the maximum weight permitted in Wisconsin’s Implements of Husbandry laws. The regulations were adopted for the 2015 growing season and are scheduled to expire at the end of 2020.
The law calls for towns to issue fee-free permits to farm operators using local roads, hauling manure to fields and harvesting crops.
A town board member from Lincoln said his town “issued an awful lot of permits the first year. Then last year, only two.”
The haulers may have switched to a different type of equipment for use on local roads that doesn’t require a permit, Ahnapee Town Chairman Gary Paape said.
“But they still should be giving you, if I’m reading it right, a route map or a direction of where they’re going to haul,” Paape said. “It would be nice if they told you when they’re going to start and stop. If you want to check a road, it would be a lot nicer if you were to ride that road before they went there. So if there is damage, you can say so.”
A video record of road conditions is a possibility, Paape said.
“I know there are towns that have gone out and actually videotaped the road before they hauled on it,” he said. “So they would have a record of what the road looked like before they started hauling.”
The Wisconsin State Patrol Motor Carrier Division has agreed to work in Kewaunee County for the next three months using a portable scale system to determine the weights of suspected heavier loads.
The letter to the county’s farm operators and contractors is being sent this month, Paape said.
“In that letter, we’re going to let them know the State Patrol is going to be in the area,” Paape said. “We’re not going to hide anything from anybody. We’d rather everybody be aware.”
The letter is also expected to raise issues Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski suggested, regarding debris on town roads and closing roads to perform operations at farm fields.
“We’re at a point now where ignorance is no longer bliss” concerning dirt or manure on road surfaces, Joski said. “Those roads need to be kept clear, period.
“If a road has debris on it and that officer is now witness to it, they’re getting a citation. We’re not going to hang around until somebody shows up with a blade.”
In addition, the sheriff said, “Clean-up at the end of the day is no longer acceptable. It’s got to be between loads or when it becomes an issue of debris on the road.”
The sheriff’s second issue involved improper parking at a transfer site or silage operation.
“They just can’t take up a road, temporarily or long-term,” Joski said. “If they know they’re going to be taking off silage and they know they’re not going to get that feed box into the field, they need to call the town chairman and ask that they shut down the road during that operation.
“Heaven forbid a fire department or a rescue squad has to get down that road and you’ve got an International and a Komatsu blocking both lanes.”
The issue of damage to county highways in Door County was also discussed at a meeting in Sturgeon Bay this week
Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej said the county highway system, while built to withstand heavier loads than the local roads can handle, are beginning to show signs of excessive wear and ruts forming in some of the county roads.
After the Door County Highway Committee voted to enforce the 92,000-pound limit on the 300 miles of Door County’s lettered roads, Kolodziej said he would work with Kewaunee Highway Commissioner Todd Every on crafting a policy for both counties.