Editor, The Pickens Sentinel
PICKENS COUNTY - A Department of Transportation initiative could shift the burden off of state bridges and place it on county roads.
"We were notified by DOT last week that all state bridges that have wood pilings supporting them will now be posted with weight limits by the end of the year," said County Administrator J. Chappell Hurst during his report to County Council Monday night.
The effect of the weight limits will be far-reaching, he said.
The new weight limit will be eight tons per axle, or roughly 33 tons gross, Hurst said.
"This will affect our Roads and Bridges (Department), our Solid Waste (Department) and all of those big trucks that haul up and down these roads," he said.
The new weight limits will cause traffic to be diverted, Hurst said.
Finding alternate routes to avoid the bridges will drive up the county's cost of fuel, and diverting heavy truck traffic off the bridges onto county roads could impact the conditions of those roads, he said.
"This will have an impact," Hurst said. "It doesn't sound like a lot but it's going to mean people will be detouring and you're going to see trucks on roads that you've never seen them on before."
Of the 72 county-maintained bridges, only 15 will have to be posted with weight limits, Hurst said.
"We only have about 15 that we have not replaced the wood pilings on," he said. "We've done a good job of replacing those."
Council members requested a list of the bridge piling replacements to help them study the situations.
In other news, officials have constructed a mini-biofuel processor, which can allows groups to see the county's biodiesel recycling program, which creates fuel out of vegetable oil, firsthand.
The processor creates 15 gallons of biodiesel at a time and will be present at the upcoming county Government Day, scheduled from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 2, Hurst said.
Recent gas price hikes due to Hurricane Ike only underscore the need for such a fuel program, Hurst said.
"This particular gas crisis, or shortage, proves the point on why we should be doing this," he said. "It makes us much more self-sustaining and self-supporting if you're got your own fuel."