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Muscatine, Scott County call on Iowa lawmakers to stop weight increase for trucks

One bill would allow some types of farm sprayers to carry 500 more pounds per axle.

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- On 130th Ave in Davenport, there's a bridge over Hickory Creek that Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken says is the worst in the county. And he says he's worried a bill on Governor Kim Reynold's desk could make it even worse.

"It's going to shorten the lifespan of this bridge and all other bridges," he says.

Senate File 555 would allow certain farm sprayers to carry more weight, up from 2,000 pounds to 2,500 pounds per axle. That bill was passed by Iowa lawmakers late last month. Another bill, Senate File 184, would increase how much logging trucks could carry, up an additional 50,000 pounds.

Croken says the county will need to reevaluate its bridges to determine which ones, if any, could support this type of increase. It would then have to resign bridges so drivers would know which ones are appropriate.

But Croken says enforcement can be a problem. He says without troopers out at the bridges, it's difficult to catch drivers who might be going across bridges that can't support their vehicles.

"We're not getting the funding to evaluate and devise clear and understandable load restriction signage," he says. "If the bridge should fail while a vehicle is on it, it would be devastating."

The Scott County Board of Supervisors, along with the Muscatine County Board, sent a resolution to the statehouse, calling on legislators not to move these bills forward.

Keith White, the Muscatine County engineer, says the bill would cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars to recertify and resign bridges.

"(Heavy trucks are) just plain hard on the roads," he says. "Heavier and heavier trucks running up and down pavements is just going to destroy it faster."

Several groups and companies have lobbied for these bills, including Monsanto, John Deere and the Iowa Wood Industry Association. The change could mean people and companies could haul more material with fewer trucks. But county leaders say that comes at a cost for drivers and the county.

Croken says Governor Reynolds could sign Senate File 555 into law any day.