Heavy Trucks Could Put Heavier Load on Taxpayers
As village officials consider lifting seasonal weight restrictions on Main Street, the burden of paying for road repairs could fall on taxpayers.
After complaints from local businesses and loads of citations given to truckers ignoring the weight limit, Sussex officials are in talks to possibly remove the seasonal weight restrictions on Main Street.
While it’s just a two-week period of time, the annual frost makes roads so susceptible to damage that Sussex posts a 6-ton weight limit on the street to deter truckers from driving on it. Removing that sign could mean extensive damage to the road, followed by expensive repairs.
However, Jason Wegner, a village trustee, said these weight limits during frost time are a major problem with local businesses because they can't get the products they need.
“The stories I’ve heard have been ridiculous,” Wegner said at Tuesday's Public Works Committee meeting. “Police pulling over trucks, making them unload. It has to stop. That road was built for commerce. It was built as a heavy road. I don’t see the minimal truck traffic to businesses in that community being detrimental to that road. I would almost like to see those weight limits dropped.”
Village Trustee Tim Dietrich agreed that this is a problem, but didn't like the idea of dropping the restrictions considering how much damage the heavy trucks can do. He said when the road needs repairs, nobody will be happy.
“This is a pain – absolutely – nobody likes the restrictions,” Dietrich said. “But when the money starts showing up on their tax bills for repairing roads, they won't like much either.”
While Wegner said he has been “blasted” with complaints from local businesses, Lt. Torin Misko said all but one of the surrounding 10 communities have the exact same weight restrictions during frost time, and they’re in place to save the community money.
“Lisbon, Pewaukee, Menomonee Falls — they all have these same restrictions,” Misko said. “The reality of it is, during that seasonal weight time in 2010, 45 citations were issued, and in 2011 there were 51. We just go with these restrictions because of the high cost these repairs come to the community. Our intent is not to hurt any business in Sussex.”
“This is a pain – absolutely – nobody likes the restrictions. But when the money starts showing up on their tax bills for repairing roads, they won’t like much either.”
Jeremy Smith, the village administrator, said Main Street sees an 80,000-pound semi on it every week considering businesses like Quad/Graphics, Piggly Wiggly and the numerous auto body shops. However, Main Street is scheduled for reconstruction in the next few years, and village staff is recommending building the road to withstand the heavy loads.
“Will (the current road) last? Sure. Will the road suffer? Absolutely. Will residents complain? Probably,” said Smith. “Just understand the road will be in very poor shape if we go along with lifting this weight enforcement on Main Street. It’s fine because we’re replacing it, but it’s a trick bag. There’s tradeoffs with everything.”
However, intentionally damaging the road did not sit well with Village President Greg Goetz. He asked why Sussex couldn’t just work with the small handful of Main Street businesses receiving these large shipments rather than using tax money to repair a road destined to be replaced.
“The idea that we just damage the road on purpose because we plan on replacing it is ludicrous,” Goetz said. “We don’t want to impose more problems just because the road is old. It’s in bad shape in many spots that I’ve seen already. I’d hate to take these weight restrictions off only to spend more money repairing it before completely redoing it.”
Goetz’s concerns convinced the others take no action on the issue for now. Instead, over the next month, Misko will meet with Main Street businesses, talk over the problems and bring back new information to next month’s Public Works meeting.