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Road Embargo Set For 8 Tons

By Staff | Oct 21, 2008

After proposing an embargo on a section of Palo Alto County Road N60 a week earlier, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors set a limit of eight tons on the roadway, a change from the original proposition. The move came after some area farmers offered their input to the supervisors in the Oct. 14 meeting.

The issue of an embargo was brought up a week earlier when Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed an emergency proclamation allowing an increase in load limits of 10 percent, or 88,000 pounds, on Iowa’s roadways to accommodate the transportation of the Fall grain harvest. That action raised some concerns for Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, and the supervisors, who had enacted a six-ton embargo on N60 this past Spring, to minimize damage on the roadway due to the soft sub base of the roadway.

Fantz had brought up the possibility of reinstating the embargo, due to the potential for damage from large wagons and their loads on the road, due to its age and general condition. But, in the interest of getting input from affected landowners, the supervisors agreed to seek input and discuss the idea further before taking any action.

On Tuesday, local farmers Jerry and Tom Stillman appeared before the board to discuss the concept.

Fantz opened the discussion telling the board that he had spoken with officials at the Ag Partners elevator and at Kerber Milling Company, as well as local farmer Jim Hobart, about the issue. “They all understand the reasoning, and for the most part, they said they could work around it.” “I understand why you’re thinking about this,” Jerry Stillman said, “But I think everyone out there could live with an eight ton per axle limit on that road. I have no problem with the lower embargo in the spring, and I don’t think anyone does. I’d just like to see it set at eight tons this Fall, because that’s a legal load.”

“I just feel that this is the wrong time of year to do this,” agreed Tom Stillman. “We need to be able to get in and out of town as fast as we can to get the harvest in. I’m just not in favor of it at this time. I don’t mind an embargo in the spring, but now it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

“I’ve got to use that road, I have no choice,” Jerry Stillman added.

“We could grant exceptions to farmers, like Jerry here, under the conditions of an embargo,” Fantz noted. “You would be a classic example for an exception.”

“Well, one of the reasons I bought land out there was because it was close to town and it was on a hard surfaced road,” Jerry Stillman added.

“I’d say let the state beat up their roads with 88,000 pounds,” local farmer Dan Chism said. “Our roads here in the county were built to be used The harvest is a poor time to embargo a road, that’s my thought.”

“I’d think by staying with the eight ton restriction, we could keep the road up and still use it,” observed Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

“According to the embargo language, the county engineer may issue certificates of exemption to those who would experience significant financial hardship from the embargo,” Fantz reminded the board members.

Supervisor Ed Noonan asked if there were any way to just let wagons use the road and keep trucks off, but Fantz noted that the giant grain wagons actually do more damage than a semi.

“Would an eight ton limit help the road?” asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

When Fantz answered that it probably would, Wirtz pointed out that he agreed with the Spring embargo of six tons, but felt maybe the eight-ton limit was the way to go.

“We’re not trying to harm anyone’s farming operation,” Fantz said. “We’re trying to build the structures and roads to support our ag industry, but we also have to protect what we have at the same time.”

With that, Hofstad moved in introduce and approve a resolution calling for an eight-ton embargo on county road N60. Wirtz offered a second and the resolution was introduced and adopted on a unanimous vote of the board.