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Renville County agrees to issue overweight truck permits during upcoming harvest

OLIVIA — Renville County will issue permits to allow overweight trucks on a few county roads during the upcoming sugar beet harvest.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a motion Tuesday allowing the county to issue permits for 10 percent overweight loads on portions of County Roads 5, 16 and 21, all of which connect to U.S. Highway 212 and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative factory site in Renville.

The action came after an earlier motion that would have opened more miles of county roadway to overweight trucks failed on a 4-1 vote.

One week earlier, sugar beet producers in the county had asked the commissioners to consider issuing overweight permits on some county roads. They currently are able to obtain 10 percent overweight permits on state and federal highways in the county through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. They would like the county to issue permits for county roads connecting to the highway.

As is the case with state permits, the county permits will allow five-axle trucks to carry loads up to 88,000 pounds during the harvest.

Before they approved the action, the commissioners expressed concerns about the damage that overweight trucks cause to county roads, and the difficulties the county faces in maintaining its road system. The county awarded a $10 million bond one year ago to try to catch up on road repairs.

Commissioners also noted the previous difficulties the county has experienced with overweight trucks.

Last year, a number of citations were issued for trucks exceeding the state permit by carrying loads over 88,000 pounds.

“After being here for 12 years and voting for it the last time, and seeing the number of violations that have happened over the years, I think we have to take baby steps forward before we open the floodgates,’’ said Commissioner Paul Setzepfandt.

He also noted that the law’s original intent was to allow a 10 percent leeway in weight on the first haul from the field, and not to allow subsequent loads to carry over 80,000 pounds. His late father, “Doc” Setzepfandt, was a state legislator involved in its original drafting.

While leeway for the first haul may have been the original intent, Renville County Attorney David Torgelson said what matters is the language of the statute. It allows for each subsequent load to weigh up to the 88,000-pound maximum.

The overweight permits will be issued through the county’s Public Works office, and will cost $60.

In a related matter, the commissioners also agreed to reissue a permit to Transystems to use seven-axle trucks that can carry loads up to 97,000 pounds. They are restricted to specific, 10-ton roadways connecting to state highways also certified for 10-ton loads.

Mike Rood, of Transystems, told the commissioners last week that the permit for seven-axle units reduced the number of loads transported for Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar by 10,000 last year, representing 500,000 fewer miles of travel.

Tom Cherveny

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

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