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Parish roads hurt by commercial traffic

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Stacey Tinsley, newsroom@bossierpress.com

Parish officials say roadways have suffered due to heavy commercial vehicles hauling timber, gas, oil, salt water, sand, gravel and equipment.

Parish roadways were originally designed for cars, not commercial vehicles. But as that type of traffic has increased, the toll on the parish roadways is telling — one legally loaded truck is equal to about 6,000 cars.

As oil and gas production has increased, so have the loads being hauled. And that means putting wear and tear on parish roads.

Although, parish officials maintain the relationship between the parish and the oil and gas companies is a good one.

“We have spent a tremendous amount of time working with the oil and gas companies to fix our roads that have been damaged. We have a good working relationship with the oil and gas companies, they have been very helpful,” said Parish Engineer Butch Ford.

Motorists have also noticed an increase in timber trucks near Benton. Concerned citizens are calling the mayor’s office with their questions.

“We have one affected area in town on Old Plain Dealing Highway,” said Benton Mayor Shelley Horton. “We have 500 trucks go in and out of there and they try to slip through our town. Police are writing tickets.”

The Bossier Parish Police Jury mandates that heavy commercial vehicles must receive a permit to travel on parish roads. If they fail to get a permit and are over the required weight limit, they will be fined.

This is done through the Bossier Parish Police Jury Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit. This office’s primary concern is public safety to motorists on Bossier Parish roads and preservation of roadways and bridges. They are charged with assuring all commercial vehicles are within the permitted weight limit for their specific haul being moved.

Russell Craig, Commanding Officer of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit, previously told the Press-Tribune that he has seen a massive increase in the amount of traffic on parish roads.

“I’m amazed at the amount of commercial vehicle traffic through our parish in just the past 10 years,” Craig said. “It’s twice what it was when I started working here. We’re worldwide right here in Bossier. It’s phenomenal.”

The Bossier Parish Police Jury Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and Parish Engineer’s office are working diligently to assess heavy commercial vehicles, weighing them in the field with portable scales. They also inspect permits, assuring their hauling loads are legal.

“We are on top of what is going on in Bossier. We have boots on the ground. They are out weighing trucks, making sure they have permits and making sure the are legal loads,” says Ford.