BY MELANIE BUCK –
A log truck traveling on Polk County Road 675 on Monday, July 6th, crossed a bridge that was not sturdy enough to handle the weight, and destroyed the bridge in the process. According to the report conducted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department,
Sheriff Mike Godfrey received a call around 10:30 a.m. from County Judge Brandon Ellison. Ellison reported that the bridge on Polk 675, also known as Butcher Knife Creek Road, had been damaged. Ellison had received a call saying that a red log truck carrying a large load of hardwood had crossed the bridge, causing part of the bridge to collapse. Ellison then called Godfrey and both began their way towards the scene.
While driving on Highway 8 East, Ellison noticed a red log truck and also reported that to Godfrey, who then saw the truck and followed it to the weight pad before conducting a traffic stop on the red log truck. Godfrey questioned the driver who said that he didn’t know the road but that he had been in the Big Fork area and had crossed a bridge before reaching the highway. When Godfrey told the driver, whose name was not released by law enforcement, of the damage to the bridge, the driver stated that the company he was hauling for had also driven their equipment across the bridge.
While questioning the driver, a second party showed up and said that he had forgotten to tell his driver not to take that road and cross that bridge. The second party also stated that when the driver had gotten to the bridge, that he tried to turn the truck around, but could not, so he crossed the bridge. However, before the truck and trailer got completely across the bridge, it partially collapsed.
Sheriff Godfrey issued the driver a citation for Disobeying a Traffic Control Device because the bridge has a sign that says 8-ton maximum and the driver disobeyed the sign twice, once when he drove in unloaded and again on his way out, loaded.
Chief Deputy Scott Sawyer noticed the size of the load on the truck and contacted the Arkansas Highway Police who responded from Sebastian County. Upon their arrival, they conducted a vehicle inspection and determined that the load was over height, over length, and was more than 30,000 pounds over weight. Mechanical issues were also found that required the truck to be taken out of service.
The truck was apprehended by Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies and county road crews had to be pulled from working on storm damage to work on the bridge instead. In a statement made by the Polk County Judge’s Office, they said, “Although the log trucks are necessary, a little common sense and willingness not to take every shortcut would save taxpayers’ money. The county has some hard surfaced roads and bridges that can’t handle fully loaded trucks. The bridges and some roads are weight restricted and it is unlawful to disregard the warning signs.”