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Renville Co. officials OK seven-axle beet rigs on some roads

OLIVIA -- Seven-axle tractor-trailer rigs will be allowed to carry loads of sugar beets weighing up to 97,000 pounds on portions of three Renville County roads beginning this year.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a new permit system to allow the larger, 70-foot-long tractor-trailer combinations for trips on the county roads running directly from beet piling sites to the 10-ton state highway system, where the larger rigs are already allowed.

Transystems has indicated it will invest $6 million in new hauling trailers to serve the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative if it obtains the green light for the larger rigs, according to the county commissioners.

The resolution will allow the larger units on:

- County Road 5 from U.S. Highway 212 to County Road 11;

- County Road 16, from U.S. Highway 212 to a point one-half-mile north;

- County Road 21, from U.S. Highway 212 to the Kandiyohi County line.

The commissioners did not approve a request by the company to include a portion of Renville County Road 6. The commissioners indicated they would like to assess the impact of the larger truck units on the other roads before possibly including Renville County Road 6.

The company is also seeking approval in Kandiyohi and Redwood counties for permits to use the larger rigs in place of the five-axle trucks with 80,000-pound weight limits now being used.

The permits, at a cost of $500 each, are only for "second haul'' trips that bring beets from piling sites to the processing factory located on the east side of the city of Renville.

The resolution approved by the Renville County Commissioners also requires that Transystem weigh and report the weights of at least 5 percent of the trucks it loads at piling sites. Its current practice is to weigh 2 percent of the trucks.

The resolution also keeps the maximum load weight at 97,000 pounds in the winter months, even though state statute would allow the load to be increased on these units to 99,000 pounds.

Marlin Larson, Renville County public works director, recommended that the limited portions of the roadways be opened to the larger units.

Discussion by the commissioners focused on information previously presented by Transystems indicating that allowing the larger rigs would reduce pavement wear and improve safety.

According to the company, a 2006 study commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that distributing the larger load over seven axles had less impact on pavement than the common, five-axle units that carry 80,000-pound loads in the autumn and up to 88,000 pounds in winter.

The seven-axle units also have more braking capacity, and because they reduce the number of trips required, have the result of improving traffic safety, according to the information.

Chippewa County had taken action earlier this year to allow the use of seven-axle units to facilitate the hauling of beets by Transystems from western piling sites to Wahpeton, N.D., for processing. The company also reports that the Red River Valley counties of Kittson, Marshall, Polk, Norman and Clay have issued it permits for the seven-axle units.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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