Trucking contractors seek change to Garfield County load rules
March 18, 2014
A request by one area trucking company that services the oil and gas industry could lead to a change in Garfield County's rules for certain types of overweight vehicle loads on county roads.
Gonzo Trucking LLC, a company based in Mesa County, has asked that Garfield County amend its codes related to overweight and oversize vehicles to allow for so-called "divisible" loads to be permitted as overweight loads on county roads.
Currently, the county does not allow certain types of loads that can be divided between multiple trucks to obtain overweight permits for use of county roads. That's in order to keep those types of loads under the county's weight limits and limit wear and tear on roads and bridges.
The rule applies to loads such as water, logs, sand, gravel, lumber and concrete, according to Debbie Fiscus, manager of the Garfield County Road and Bridge Department.
Gonzo provides contract water management services for oil and gas companies in several West Slope counties, said company representative Davey Graham at the Monday county commissioners meeting.
The company has recently begun using a new, larger type of four-axle truck to haul water to and from well pads, which Graham said allows for fewer trips with the trade-off of requiring overweight permits to use remote county roads.
Such permitting is allowed in Mesa and Rio Blanco counties, he said, but not in Garfield County.
"We all know that the oil and gas industry is the lifeline of the economy here in western Colorado," Graham said, noting that 70 percent of Garfield County's tax revenues come from the industry and the financial contributions from energy companies to help upgrade and maintain haul routes in the county.
Use of the multi-axle trucks, as opposed to the smaller three-axle trucks, results in cost savings to the industry as well as fewer trips on county roads, Graham said.
"By using these trucks, we are actually reducing the per-square-inch impact on roads," he said. "Less traffic equals less road maintenance."
But county road and bridge officials are concerned that an increase in overweight vehicles using county roads would result in faster deterioration of roads and bridges.
"Allowing divisible loads would include not only water hauling trucks, but the gravel trucks, cement trucks, logging trucks and any other loads that are currently transporting at legal limits," according to a department memo for the Monday discussion.
The current fee collected for overweight loads, at $15 plus $5 per axle, would not generate enough to keep up with the extra maintenance, department officials also indicated.
Representatives of several other trucking companies were also on hand for the discussion and said most other counties in the state issue overweight permits for divisible loads.
The Garfield commissioners agreed it's worth reviewing the county's road restrictions to consider the request, but that will require a formal public hearing process. An April 21 hearing date has been tentatively set to consider amending the code.
"With Mesa and Rio Blanco counties already doing this, I think it's a big hole in our code, and we need to move forward and have a public hearing," Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.
Commissioners also asked that road and bridge staff obtain information from the neighboring counties regarding their fees for divisible loads and if they've seen an increase in the deterioration of their roads as a result.