INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 23, 2015) – The structural integrity of bridges is essential to farmers’ profitability here in Indiana and across the country. Farmers depend upon rural roads and bridges to efficiently deliver their commodities to the local country elevator or processor. Unfortunately, county bridges across the state are not in good shape so Indiana farmers and Purdue University are funding a project to address the issue.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA), Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC), Soy Transportation Coalition, and the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University are partnering to offer affordable technical assistance to county highway departments in load testing of rural bridges.
According to the “2015 Statewide Bridge Sufficiency Rating Report,” 1,398 of the 13,090 county maintained bridges in the state of Indiana are rated as structurally deficient and there are 1,570 bridges that are closed or have weight restrictions and those numbers will increase due to new load posting criteria.
Many rural bridges across the country are posted for restricted truck weights, requiring vehicles transporting soybeans, corn and other commodities to detour. This results in additional costs being inserted in our nation’s food delivery system and diminished profitability for America’s farmers.
“While the recent closing of the bridge along Interstate 65 was an extreme example of a detour that added additional transportation costs for many, there are other examples on county roads across the state that cost farmers, and other businesses, time and money every day,” said Joe Tuholski, chair of ISA’s Supply Committee and farmer from LaPorte County. “We hope counties will take advantage of this technology to help them make informed decisions when it comes to their roads and bridges.”
Typical procedures for calculating load ratings often use many assumptions that can lead to overly conservative weight restrictions for farmers. This not only results in unwarranted detours, but it prevents state and local governments from most efficiently allocating scarce resources to those bridges in urgent need of modernization and repair.
Posting or closure of a bridge directly affects farmers, families, businesses, schools, and state agencies in many ways. Political, social and financial consequences can follow. However, if load testing can show that a bridge is still safe for service loading, these effects can be avoided.
The use of load testing technology for bridges will result in a more accurate diagnosis of the structural capacity and weight limitations – ensuring better stewardship of taxpayer dollars and of our state’s bridge inventory.
“We encourage any innovation or technology that will result in a more cost effective and reliable delivery of our crops to market,” said Ronnie Mohr, chair of ICMC’s Supply Committee and farmer from Hancock County. “Therefore, we are very interested in seeing these technologies become more widely demonstrated throughout Indiana.”
With support from the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Soy Transportation Coalition and LTAP, this program will benefit counties by providing expertise and equipment at an affordable rate. Such benefits will help keep important rural bridges operating for longer periods of time, until replacement or rehabilitation funds become available.
If a county highway department would like to participate in this program, contact Patrick Conner at the Indiana LTAP at 765-494-4971.
About Indiana Corn Marketing Council: The Indiana Corn Marketing Council was established by the Indiana General Assembly to promote the interest of corn growers in the state and manage corn checkoff funds. The Council is composed of 17 voting producer directors and seven appointed industry, and government representatives. For more information, visit www.incorn.org.
About Indiana Soybean Alliance: The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers. Visit www.indianasoybean.com for more information.
This communications was funded with Indiana soybean and corn checkoff dollars.