December 22, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
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County engineer against raising maximum truck weight

MEDINA — Medina County Engineer Mike Salay is against a proposal to increase the maximum weight of tractor-trailers on state highways by more than 21 percent.

The problem is that trucks don’t always stay on state highways.

A truck passes through the intersection of State Road and West Liberty Street in Medina on Monday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

“Those trucks begin and end their routes on local roads, not state highways,” Salay said. “When that load leaves a site and then returns, it’s traveling a county or local road.”

And those local roads weren’t designed to handle such heavy loads.

“Heavier trucks do, in the long term, potentially cause more damage to roads and bridges,” he said.

The resulting damage, Salay said, economically could be straining and dangerous for drivers.

A proposal in the Ohio Legislature would increase the maximum weight of tractor-trailers from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds.

He said the appeal of the provision to House Bill 51 is the potential economic gain from trucks carrying more along state routes.

Salay said there are 330 miles of county roads in Medina County — and that doesn’t include city and township roads.

Salay isn’t the only county engineer against raising the weight limit. The County Engineers Association of Ohio questions whether enough research has been done on the subject.

“Raising truck weight limits in Ohio doesn’t make economic sense,” said Fredrick B. Pausch, association executive director. “Today, more than one in five bridges needs serious repairs or completely replaced. Where will the money come from to repair all our local roads and bridges that will be damaged by these overweight loads?”

Pausch said the association supports making the provision a separate bill so it can be discussed without holding up the transportation budget bill.

“Bigger, longer, heavier trucks barreling down Ohio’s two-lane highways are accidents waiting to happen,” Pausch said. “Do we really want to put the safety of Ohio’s families in the middle of this argument?”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.