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Truck Permits a Tall Order to Fill

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The second bridge in just days to be hit by too tall of a load
BENSON — North Carolina has more than 17,000 bridges spanning its highways andbyways. They're becoming a target for tractor trailers. It's a safetyrisk risk for all of us. The latest example, Thursday night alongInterstate 95 in Johnston County near Four Oaks.

The state has a permitting process, but it seems to rely quite heavilyon the honor system. Thursday's accident blocked both lanes of Interstatetraffic. The trucking company involved blamed the accident on someoneelse.

The cargo on one South Carolina tractor trailer was simply too tall tomake it under a Johnston County bridge last night.

In North Carolina, truckers hauling cargo taller than 13'6" need a specialpermit to do so. The trucker in Thursday's accident didn't have one,and the top of the container he was carrying hit the bottom of the Highway701 bridge.

The trucking company told state officials the people they were shippingthe container for gave them the wrong dimensions for it, so the companydidn't know it needed a permit. It's the company's feeling theresponsibility for the accident falls under the person who loaded it.

The Department of Motor Vehicles says that's no excuse. DMV Officials saythe final responsibility lies on the trucker and the trucking company.

Ann Faison-Keith issues oversize permits. But she says there's no way DMVcan visually inspect every truck. What's worse, she says, her departmentmust rely on the information it gets from truckers when deciding whetherto issue a permit.

The DMV says box trailers aren't the problem. It's the flatbeds that takecargo piled to any height.

Heights that don't always allow a safe passage. When the state issuesan overheight permit, it gives truckers routes around bridges that couldcause problems, but must still pay attention. Bridges under 14'6" tallmust be marked, but some aren't.

No amount of regulation can replace common sense.

NOTE:Our bridges take a beating from the traffic ofheavytrucks. Now the trucks may be about to get bigger. A Proposal by StateSenator David Hoyle of Gastonia would allow tractor trailers on ruralroads to be longer and wider. The measure has heavy opposition. It's setfor a House Committee vote June 25th.

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