Nearly 25 percent of Adams County bridges were called into question by the state. Starting four years ago, this project is hitting a major portion of the county's rural links during the busiest time of the year.
Being in the throes of harvest, normal weight limits on semis get thrown out the window, but what's remained the same for 40 years are the bridges.
"The fire trucks are a lot bigger, a lot heavier, and carry a lot more water," said Hastings Fire Chief Kent Gilbert. It's a lot more everything than when most of Adams County bridges were built 30 to 70 years ago, and this year they're getting used a lot more.
"We all know this season fires are up, we're going to a lot of places where bridges do need to be replaced a long time ago," he said.
Forty-seven of the county's 198 bridges have been deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by the state's roads department in 2008. "It's vital to safety," said Gilbert. "We may pass over a bridge with an overweight truck, but we don't know what damage is being done to the bridge that could cause an accident for the next truck," he said.
But whether it's a truck, combine or school bus, it's all precarious to the county roads department.
"A lot of our timber bridges are coming in at six tons for a straight truck, which is a school bus and they're eight tons," said Dawn Miller, Adams County Highway Superintendent. Even though eight tons may seem small compared to an 18 ton fire truck, double that again to get to a 100,000 pound fully loaded grain truck and that's what's using many of the bridges right now.
"They tend to not recognize the problem and ignore postings, they always think ‘it won't happen to me,' well, it will happen eventually," warned Miller.
The Adams County Roads Department is working to fix the problem. They have built 12 new steel and concrete structures in four years, while fixing 34 bridges in total. That doesn't mean they're done, in the mean time they need everyone to be aware.
"Believe the signs," said Miller. That means, she said, doing it knowing it might take a while to secure a safe passage to save your life and the lives of others.
"We're pretty excited that the bridges are being updated; makes it safer for us to do our job and avoid delays," said Gilbert.