September 20, 2014

Agricultural equipment takes a toll on roads

Agricultural equipment – the official term is “implements of husbandry” – is getting larger and heavier, which helps in more efficient farm production, but it can also impact pavement and road structures. “We certainly have seen some situations where pavements have been significantly damaged, really taken out of service, because of these heavy loads,” said Dave Vieth, Director of the Bureau of Highway Maintenance of the state Department Of Transportation.

Vieth said many township and local roads just aren’t capable of handling the loads imposed by modern farm machinery. “Some of the equipment is at the point where . . . once it gets on a roadway, the way the load is imposed will sometimes cause pavement failure to occur.”

That’s why DOT, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and more than 20 stakeholders convened a study group to look at the issue. “We have to find the right balance for how we deal with this, and what conditions need to apply, in order for farmers to succeed and the highway system to be preserved,” said Vieth.

The study group has come up with several options that could lessen the impact of the equipment, while balancing the needs of agriculture. These options will be shared at a series of town hall meetings to be held throughout the state this month. The meetings, co-hosted by the University of Wisconsin Extension, will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on the dates and locations listed below:

August 19 – UW Extension Office, 5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison

August 20 – Country Aire Banquet Hall, F1312 County Road P, Stratford

August 28 – Cashton Community Hall, 8111 Main Street, Cashton

August 29 – WisDOT US 41 Brown County Field Office, 1940 West Mason Street, Green Bay

September 3 – Chippewa County Courthouse Large Assembly Room, 711 North Bridge Street, Chippewa Falls