MDOT’s help not sought on road, truck concerns

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lincoln County supervisors have never requested the assistanceof the Mississippi Department of Transportation in their efforts tostop overloaded trucks from traveling on county roads, an MDOTofficial confirmed Monday

Arlington resident Jan Busby, who berated the board in a long,emotional disputation during supervisors’ Monday meeting, made therevelation before board president the Rev. Jerry Wilson recessedthe meeting to end Busby’s wandering accusations.

Busby appeared before the board Monday to speak out againstsupervisors’ idea to create a new truck permit enforcement positionwithin the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. She called it awaste of tax dollars and pointing out that MDOT would visit thecounty to help control the trucks if requested.

Supervisors had discussed the potential project during the April6 meeting, envisioning the approximately $40,000 per year positionas a single deputy who would issue and enforce permits to stopheavy, out-of-county trucks from shortcutting through the county onfragile county roads.

But MDOT Office of Enforcement Director Willie Huff said LincolnCounty has made no official request for his office’s help in theseven years he’s been with the department. Some supervisors,though, claim they have spoken indirectly with MDOT.

“I’d say we get at least one request per month from differentcounties … but none from Lincoln County,” Huff said. “Oncethey’ve requested it, we’ll ease back in there and set up a detailwith their law enforcement.”

District Four Supervisor Doug Moak, the most vocal proponent ofthe proposed permitting system during the April 6 meeting and thetarget of most of Busby’s ire Monday, said he has spoken with MDOTabout the issue before, but the department is unable to provide thepermitting service he’s looking for.

“MDOT will come and help us as far as overweight trucks, butthis isn’t exactly about overweight trucks,” he said.

Huff said MDOT would bring its mobile scales, stop trucks andweigh them on county roads to make sure they comply with weightlimits, but permitting – the necessary method to stop out-of-countytrucks from using Lincoln County roads as shortcuts – is entirely acounty matter and outside of MDOT’s reach.

“I didn’t want (the potential permitting deputy) to be weighingtrucks, I just wanted him to enforce the permits,” Moak said.

Despite the lengthy discussion on the potential system two weeksago, not all supervisors are convinced of its benefits. It seemsthe out-of-county truck problems are occurring most in the southernhalf of Lincoln County, in Districts One, Three and Five.

District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts and District Five SupervisorGary Walker have reservations about the necessity of creating a newpermitting deputy.

“I ain’t having no trouble out here out of trucks,” Walker saidafter Monday’s meeting, adding that his last petition to MDOT wasin 2000 or 2001. “Every once in a while I’ll have a little problemand I’ll find out who owns it, and it’s usually solved. The lastproblem I had was with Sanderson Farms out of Gallman. I went upthere and we talked about a half-hour and it was settled. That wasit.”

Watts didn’t allude to any out-of-county truck problems in hisdistrict.

But even if there were, he is still opposed to the potential newpermitting system. A former bulldozer service owner, Watts pointedout the importance of trucks and went on to say he couldn’t votefor a measure that would impact truckers’ livelihoods.

“My theory about roads is build a road that will tote thetrucks,” he said. “I don’t feel like we would walking on solidground if we ticket the trucks. That truck’s tag has ‘Mississippi’on it – it don’t say ‘Rankin’ or ‘Franklin’ county. When you buy acommercial tag, you’re buying a state tag. I don’t want our roadstore up, but the money we give for the deputy and the insurance wegot to pay, we can build a mile of road per year.”