Detour: Wisconsin farmers cope with new bridge restrictions
La Crosse Tribune
May 27, 2018
It’s not crop prices that keep Shane Goplin up at night. It’s infrastructure.
Goplin, who grows corn and beans on about 3,000 acres in northern Trempealeau County, has seen the drive to his fields quadruple thanks to weight limits that keep him from driving trucks and harvesters across aging bridges.
New weight restrictions were placed on nearly 200 Wisconsin bridges — most on county and town roads in the western part of the state — this spring as highway engineers try to account for the strain from newer trucks that use tightly-spaced axles to carry more weight in a smaller frame.
As a result, farmers and truckers have been forced to take detours to get their products to market and haul half-filled loads from “landlocked” fields.
“This is a very serious concern for us. We want to make sure farmers can get to and from their fields,” said Rob Richard, senior director of governmental relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. “If they can’t make the quickest, most efficient route they’re just adding wear and tear to other roads. … then it becomes a larger issue.”