Attention all haulers, farmers, big and small throughout Kewaunee county. A plan for heavy hauling is being developed in Kewaunee County that has great potential for success. The Kewaunee County Committee for Heavy Traffic (KCCHT) met last Thursday evening to discuss the ramifications of Assembly Bill 648 relating to the operation of agricultural vehicles (husbandry) on highways and providing penalties for non-compliance.
The KCCHT committee is chaired by Brian Paphlam and has members from the public sector, large farms, small farms and independent haulers. This group has made terrific headway in the past two years with regard to assisting the State in developing new standards for the operation of implements of husbandry on the roads of the Wisconsin.
For years, the lament of townships has been that they have no control over how much weight is being hauled on their town roads. AB 648 deals with that issue and more than likely will pass through both the Assembly and Senate in April 2014. Assuming it does pass, the Governor would sign this legislation into law in late April and this new law governing the size and weight of husbandry implements operating on our roadways would then go into effect.
AB 648 will change many size, length, width and weight limitations for husbandry equipment. There are many changes and it is not possible to list them in this article. If you’d like some challenging reading, go to: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/related/proposals/ab648.pdf.
For Kewaunee County, the most notable changes are that road and bridge weight limits can now be set by each township as to the weight (within reason) any given road will accommodate. Also, now all haulers will be required to obtain a no-fee permit from each township for hauling in, or through, those townships.
What was impressive in this KCCHT Committee meeting, is the cooperation and idea sharing that occurred between all the parties, CAFOs, Smaller Farm operators, Public Sector, University Extension Personnel (Erica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County and Cheryl Skjolaas, Madison), Independent Contract Haulers, Towns Officials and Sheriff’s Department. The overall planning and implementation of this new law (assuming it passes) on a local level will be a bit tedious but this group came up with a very workable plan.
The basic premise for operation will be, first to have all the Towns in for a meeting to explain the process and procedures. Following that meeting (assuming all the towns buy in), will be to have the towns leadership color code their roads and bridges. A color code will be established for various weight limits and then each road would be coded according to the weight it would bear. Once that is completed, those maps would be distributed to the haulers. The haulers would then calculate their routes and apply for permits from each township on their planned hauling routes. This part of the implementation will require good communication and cooperation between the Townships and haulers.
This whole process has taken over two years to develop and Cheryl Skjolaas from the University Extension group in Madison complimented the KCCHT for being one of the leading groups in the State for cooperating and developing the procedures being implemented. I recall a meeting a couple of years ago when this process began and it was a bit rocky at that time. We’ve come a long way on this issue.
I am glad I attended this meeting, it gives me hope that when various groups from the community get together and have respectful conversation and brain-storming good things can come from it. Let’s continue to work together to make Kewaunee County a better place to live!