Soft Roads and More Rain: Commissioners Pass Five-Ton Load Limit on Designated County Roads

By Larry Bemis

Sentinel Editor

After lengthy and sometimes almost headed debate, the Parke County Commissioners agreed on an ordinance restricting the weight limit on certain county roads to five tons for the next 90 days.

The limit applies to all vehicles including school buses, farm and commercial vehicles, delivery trucks; only emergency vehicles such as police, fire or EMS units are exempt under Indiana law.

The debate over the ordinance began as school buses began having trouble getting through some of the county’s roads, which have become saturated by the continuous precipitation, in the form of rain, snow, sleet or ice, for nearly the last four months. Many counties in Indiana have ordinances in place during the late winter and early spring months when roads are more likely to be soft underneath. Vermillion and Montgomery counties were among those mentioned during the debate.

North Central Parke transportation director Terri Veach said their buses were running limited routes already because several of them had problems and nearly became stuck Monday. Most parents expect that there will be days when the buses can’t come directly to their door and their kids will only be picked up at designated bus stops.

Commissioner president Jim Meece said it was his understanding that there is no exemption under state law for farm vehicles, as is commonly thought. The concept of closing the roads only to school buses, while removing any traffic would keep the roads from being damaged further, would be impractical. In fact, the longer wheelbase of the school bus chassis means it actually causes less damage to the roads than shorter-wheelbase farm of commercial trucks.

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