By Bob Weaver

Truckers in a four-county area are being ticketed because of new weight limits being placed on bridges.

The enforcement is hitting gravel, building supply, concrete and asphalt haulers, in addition to timber operators, and in some cases does not give haulers any option to move their loads.

There may be a problem with the Corder Bridge at the Calhoun-Roane line on US 33-119. There are three bridges on W.Va. 16 between Arnoldsburg and Big Otter that have new lower limits.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council says Calhoun, Roane, Wirt and Jackson County have been targeted with the changes.

Lower weight limits have been posted on dozens of regional bridges, a result of changes made by the West Virginia Legislature.

The new limits are an off-shoot of legislation that increased the allowable weight limits for coal trucks from 65,000 to 120,000 pounds.

The issue appears to have regulation and enforcement glitches that are unfair to haulers other than coal.

The U. S. 33 bridge in Spencer has a posted limit of 64,000 pounds, which essentially blocks most hauling traffic through the town. The DOH said this week the weight limit on the Spencer bridge was not correct and will be increased.

A meeting was held in Parkersburg with Fred VanKirk of the WDOT, representatives from the PSC Motor Carrier Weight Enforcement Division and a host of people from Roane, Jackson and Calhoun counties.

The issue appears to be centered on a bill passed by the 2003 legislature (SB 583), known as the Coal Resource Transportation System (CRTS) bill.

Jim Mylott, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, says he believes in the 2004 session some technical corrections were made to that legislation.

One of those amendments required that the DOT review the weight limits on all state roads and raise those limits to 80 thousand pounds, where appropriate.

Mylott says the legislation is "highly technical."

"Suffice it to say that it appears that the new weight limits are restricting the ability of some truckers to carry a full load," he said.

"It will or could have a major impact on the rural areas of the state," said Mylott.

Grantsville businessman "Tink" Erlewine said he was ticketed in Mineral Wells for what he considered to be a small load of material, but it exceeded a lower limit declared by new signage on the bridge.

"The state raised the weight limits for the roads, then they lowered the bridge limits," said Delegate Bob Ashley (Republican) from Roane County.

Ashley said some truck owners were convinced by highway officials to buy permits to haul larger loads ended up getting shortchanged because they could not haul those loads across the bridges.

Erlewine said this happened to him.

Most tractor-trailers are not affected because they are allowed to haul larger loads because the weight is more evenly distributed.

Ashley said "Probably 80 percent of the trucks in this area are not tractor-trailers. They are the tandem-axles that have a lower weight limit."

Trucks headed to Roane and Calhoun from I-77 at Mineral Wells have problems with a bridge in Mineral Wells and another near the Wood-Wirt County line. A bridge at Reedy is supposed to be posted with lower limits.