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Wisconsin Farmers Take Long Route Under New Bridge Rules


Wisconsin News Connection ishere.

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Using it as a sign that the country needs to focus attention on its crumbling infrastructure, farmers and truckers are being forced to take longer detours to haul their products because of new weight restrictions on bridges.

Wisconsin transportation officials have been re-evaluating more than 2,000 bridges over the past several years to meet a Federal Highway Administration deadline. The focus has been on rural roads in the western part of the state with short-span bridges with timber and steel frames.

For Shane Goplin, who grows grains, corn and soybeans in Trempealeau County, he's being hit hard with the new federal guidelines. Despite his barn and fields being just four miles apart, he's skipping more than four alternate routes to find the best bridge that could handle his haul, which also includes carrying manure on semis. "So then option four would be 16 miles; that's got a D-rated bridge," says Goplin. "So my next option would be to go 17 miles around to where I don't have a bridge that's D-rated."

Gov. Scott Walker recently announced that more than 100 bridges are slated for replacement with more than $7 million in state funds. Goplin says the problem is not special to Wisconsin. He says the country as a whole needs to invest more in its transportation infrastructure. "You know, we need to address our infrastructure in America, and it's not just roads and bridges," says Goplin. "Our locks and dams are in dire need of fixing, you know. We're living inn a crumbling society as far as our infrastructure. "

Goplin, who is also part of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, says the extended detours are also bad for the state's other roadways and bridges that he's now forced to use because he's now adding wear and tear there and to his equipment.

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