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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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School officials to investigate crossing '7-ton' bridge with buses

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Two Southwest School Corp. buses utilize the Frakes Street bridge Wednesday after school. At least one public official has questioned if the buses exceed the bridge's posted weight limit.

Some Southwest School Corp. school buses have been utilizing a bridge with a 7-ton weight limit which has at least one public official concerned.
“That concerns me, if the bridge is that bad ... and we are still crossing it with kids,” Sullivan County Council President Duane Wampler said.
The bridge in question is on Frakes Street, which houses Sullivan Elementary and Middle schools in between its junctions with U.S. 41 and Section Street.
The bridge is slated to be replaced in 2014, and the council was discussing early appropriations for the project at its Tuesday meeting.
SWSC Superintendent Keith Brashear said he believes school buses exceed 7 tons, and he and assistant superintendent Chris Stitzle plan to investigate the matter.
“We want to comply with the posting on the bridge. If we are over it, our drivers won’t be allowed to cross that bridge anymore,” Brashear said.
County Engineer Benji Boyd said that from a “county liability standpoint” he would advise against buses crossing the bridge; however, he noted that if the bridge is listed as a two-way structure, then it’s rated to hold double its posted weight limit, or 14 tons. The engineer added that while he wasn’t for sure about the bridge’s length, he said it may be short enough that buses don’t have both of its axles on the structure at any time.
Nonetheless, both school and county officials say they want to stay on the safe side.
Wampler suggested weight limit signs be placed closer to 41 and Section Street to give out-of-town drivers an indication of the restriction before getting to the narrow bridge.
Also Tuesday, council members commended the Sullivan County Highway Department on getting rid of some of its excess and unused equipment.
The department sold $84,000 worth of equipment at the recent Sullivan High School FFA consignment auction.
The department has since been granted permission to use that money to purchase three new trucks for the department, with hopes of having a more uniform fleet of equipment. The department currently has a mix of vehicles of different models, colors and ages.
In other business, a couple of county council members agreed to join some of the county’s elected officials Monday to meet with the two computer software providers that generate the county’s property tax bills.
Treasurer Beth Swalls told council members Tuesday that some compatibility issues arose between Low Associates and Tyler Technologies during the most recent tax season. Low provides the software for the treasurer and auditor offices, while Tyler works for the assessor’s office.


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