PIERRE, SD – A bill that would increase the allowable height of baled feed sailed through the Senate Ag and Natural Resources Committee.
Sponsor, Representative Caleb Finck of Tripp says the bill came out of conversations between hay haulers and the highway patrol.
“As we sat around the table, we narrowed it down to 15 feet,” says Finck. “It’s an acceptable height for everyone that doesn’t put too many structures in jeopardy. It will get it high enough so we get baled feed down the road without causing any undue burden.”
John Broers, Captain with the motor carrier division of the highway patrol, says they looked at a survey of bridges in the state.
“We did some research and there’s 580 structures in South Dakota,” said Broers. “At the current height, 7.7 percent of those 14.3 foot loads can clear. At 15 feet we jump up to 19.5 percent of those structures that could have an impact. Anything above 15 feet, we’re at 30 percent of those structures.”
The issue came up when a number of hay haulers were ticketed late last year for having an overheight load.
Broers says most farmers were exempt from the law.
“Right now, this bill has no affect on ag producers. Ag producers are currently exempt from a maximum height when they’re hauling their own product except on interstates,” explains. Broers. “These larger loads are already moving on our county roads and rural state highways. Currently, the lowest bridge structure on the interstate system is 15.4 inches so it won’t impact the interstate bridge system and it’s already being done on our rural highways.”
The bill passed the Ag & Natural Resources Committee on a seven – zero vote.
It will now move to the Senate floor for final action.