County imposes spring road load restrictions

RBC — The Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge Department will impose its annual Spring Load Restriction as soon as the spring thaw begins. It will be in effect on County Roads 5 (Piceance Creek), 7 (Strawberry) and 21 (Bonanza).
The weight restriction last year began March 7 and was lifted on April 23. The spring thaw occurred earlier in 2006 with the weight restriction imposed on Feb. 20 and ending April 11. The restriction allowed a maximum of 14,000 lbs. per axle which is 70 percent of a normal legal load. These three paved roads were determined to be the most vulnerable to the effects of the annual freeze-thaw cycle, especially due to the high truck traffic they endure.
Rio Blanco County, with the technical expertise of Stantec Consulting, began the spring load restriction program in 2007, after losing more than 17 miles of pavement during the spring-thaw of 2006. No other county in the state has a spring load restriction program.
In 2007, some of the major oil and gas companies contributed money to implement a state-of-the-art pavement spring load restriction program. The objectives of the program are to define the critical start date, the allowable weight per axle and the ending date of the weight restriction. Probe sensors have been placed at various locations and depths along County Roads 5 and 7, so that the latest data can be uploaded and analyzed at any time. The other method of determining pavement strength, falling weight deflection testing, was done on County Road 21 and also done in tandem with the sensors on the other two roads.
Although these restrictions are a hardship on haulers, the long term effects are tremendous. Pavement life is extended and road damage is kept to a minimum, which is especially important because these roads do not have adequate structure beneath the pavement. Rio Blanco County will maintain this annual program as long as these three roads, plus others as needed, are not rebuilt to withstand the combination of spring-thaw and heavy truck traffic.
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