Commissioners approve resolution opposing Senate bill

Published 8:11 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Escambia County Commissioners approved a resolution Monday to oppose Senate Bill 157 moving through channels in Montgomery.

The bill is meant to allow heavy weights to be transported over Alabama highways and roadways.

However, Escambia County Engineer Bill Bridges said the bill would allow more deterioration for roads across the state.

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“This piece of legislation flies in the face of our recent progress under the Rebuild Alabama Act and ignores that our county road and bridge system is still very much under repair after 30 years of drastically insufficient funding and subsequent deterioration,” Bridges said.

Bridges asked commissioners to adopt the resolution opposing the legislation to show support against increasing weight limits for log trucks through the county.

“If passed, SB157, will bring substantial damage to our county’s transportation system by allowing for a significant increase in weight that logging trucks can transport on any public road or bride,” Bridges said. “More specifically, it would increase the allowable gross weight and axle weight for certain logging trucks by 10 percent, allowing for transportation for almost 100,000 pounds in a single trip. While 10 percent may sound modes, in reality of physics, the weight increase is much more substantial and ultimately doubles the impact to transportation infrastructure.”

Bridges went on to explain that by expanding weight restrictions, federal funding for the state would be in jeopardy.

“Currently, the State accesses hundreds of millions of federal dollars each year, partly because our current state law aligns with the weight restrictions of federal law,” Bridges said. “As written, the provisions of the bill would place the State in excess of the federal governments current weight restrictions, making the State susceptible to a denial of certain federal funds.”

Bridges told commissioners that the bill was quickly considered and approved by members of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and is now positions for consideration by the full Senate chamber. That move makes is likely that a similar bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives in an effort to more quickly move the initiative through the legislative process.

Bridges said he is joined by other county engineers in the state to oppose the provisions of SB157 or any other similar legislation or policy. The commission approved their support in opposition to the bill.

In other business, the Commission

• accepted Paredes Way into the county road maintenance system. The roadway is near the Poarch Creek Indian administration building. Bridges said PCI is working to execute the deed for the area to the county;

• adopted the annual ad valorem tax levy;

• approved a policy to authorize deputy sheriffs to retain their badge and service pistol upon retirement. Sheriff Heath Jackson said that currently, retiring deputies are not able to retain their duty weapons or badges. The police will allow the ability to allow retiring deputies to retain those items. The cost would be $500 to $600 per retiring officer. Jackson said there are no upcoming retirements expected, but by putting the policy in place now would make those provisions in the future;

• approved the relocation of the Little Rock voting location from its current spot at Little Rock store to the Little Rock Volunteer Fire Department.