So what are the proposals for Implements of Husbandry changes that will protect town roads and allow for safe and effective transportation of farm goods to markets?
You can read them all here. But know that many of these may be changed due to the feedback received at listening sessions throughout the state. Here are just a few:
IoH is given an expanded 15% weight allowance over the limits as established by the Federal Bridge Formula, except where posted and during periods of spring thaw. This equates to a maximum single axle weight of 23,000 pounds and a gross vehicle weight of 92,000 pounds.
A new IoH weight table will be created to (e.g. 348.30) reflect the 15% allowance based on gross vehicle weight, axle weight and spacing.
Written authorization to exceed the size envelope and weight limits may be requested on an annual basis from the maintaining authority of that roadway. Written authorizations may only be granted when:
The operator is 18 years of age and holds a valid driver’s license. IoH meets lighting, marking, and safety requirements pertaining to IoH in s. 347 (safety requirements) A travel or route plan for the IoH is submitted. Additional conditions may be set by each maintaining authority (local or state) of which the IoH is operating.
So what does that mean? First it means that all farm implements are permitted to be on the roads if they don’t exceed the current requirements by more than 15%. There is an exception when the bridge, culvert, or roadway itself would be unsafe to handle that weight. The permission to exceed is granted on an annual basis by the municipality ( in this case my fellow Town Board members). Caveats for granting permission includes having a valid drivers license and filing a route plan (like a flight plan for IoH) so the Town will know which roads they are on.
Here’s the rub: As the man said, he farms in three counties, four cities, and many towns. Why should he have to go to each authority in order to move his farm equipment from one parcel to another? Can’t this be streamlined? Well, the answer is ‘No’. Nobody knows the road conditions better than the local municipality. For example, we have an Amish community in our area and there are two main north-south corridors they use for horse and buggy travel. Our town may want to place some restrictions on movement on those roads when the Amish kids are going to and from school. (This is also our concern with frac sand trucking) I regret that once each year this farmer has to go to maybe ten or twenty towns and get a permit but nobody else knows the roads better than those towns.
Let’s talk about size issues:
Create size limits or an “envelope” for IoH Width envelope:
Width of IoH –15’ (feet); However, an IoH greater than 15’ (feet), but no greater than 17’ (feet) may be operated without written authorization when the IoH operator meets safety requirements to ensure safe passage by other road users.
Width of IoH CMV –10’ (feet).
Height envelope: Height of IoH –13’ 6”(feet/inches). An IoH greater than 13’6” (feet/inches) may be operated without written authorization. The IoH operator is responsible for ensuring safe clearance of any over head obstructions.
Length envelope: 60’ (feet) for a single IoH; 100’ (feet) for combinations of two IoH; and 70’ (feet) for combinations of three IoH.
As near as I can tell, there will be two classifications of farm vehicles: the standard IoH and now the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). There have been instances when creative people have converted trucks into farming vehicles and then tried to not register the truck because it was used in the fields. I think this is another case of evasive and deceptive solutions and so does the Sheriff. When a farmer said at the meeting that trucks can be considered IoH in some instances, the Sheriff stood up and explained that his deputies know the difference between IoH and trucks and that trucks are trucks no matter what they do on the farm. That issue was then settled that if it looks like a truck and drives like a truck that it must be a truck regardless of what it does for the farmer.
There were a lot of references to 6-row corn planters that were 17′ 6″ wide and how they would all be illegal under the new rules but the DATCP said they got the message that 17′ 6″ was needed. Another person stood up and said “well, in the future it might be 18 ‘ or more. Who knows what the implement manufacturers will do?” The reply was that implement manufacturers will just have to design them so they fold in. They have some creative engineers and can figure this out.
The second-to-last thing I want to comment on is this approach to requiring a drivers license. Some farmers said their boys had been driving tractors since they were 12 and 14 and they were not as big a problem as some of the old time farmers with new IoHs because the old timers did not know how to drive them. This was supposed to be an effort to say that IoH drive certification was more important than a drivers license. My view is that anyone who drives a vehicle on a road should have a drivers license.Period. I would also require that IoH drivers also have a certification for traveling on roads. Anyone who has seen the size of some IoHs or the length of some of them knows that special care (and therefore special training) is needed to drive them.
And finally, some farmers just want the weight restrictions removed for farm products. This created a buzz because all of us know that frac sand trucking would want the same consideration. The road does not care whether it is corn or sand or rocks or asphalt. Weight is weight and any effort to grant one type of goods as a weight exception means the frac sand companies will be lining the coffers of future elected officials to get the same thing.
There is more to be done on this issue, of course.
I liked seeing that 30+ % of the attendees were elected officials. Maintaining the life of a road is a serious way to control costs. Things that shorten the life of a road is wasteful. Kudos to all who attended.