Kansas farmers deal with Willard Bridge restrictions

ROSSVILLE (KSNT) — The harvest season has started in Kansas and some area farmers are having to add more time to their already long days.

The 9 ton weight restriction on the Willard Bridge means vital, but heavy equipment can’t be driven across the aging and failing bridge. The semi-tractor-trailers that carry grain are also prohibited from crossing.

Despite the busy season, the Shawnee County Commission won’t lift the restriction and local, as well as state, law enforcement will ticket drivers who try to use the bridge with oversized vehicles and equipment.

“There is no ag exemption, but this is for the safety of everybody in the community and the public’s safety,” Kevin Cook, Shawnee County Commission Chair, said Thursday morning. But Cook did acknowledge the limit does hinder farmers during one of the busiest times of the year.

“For them to get their equipment from one side or the other is extremely cumbersome or impossible in some cases,” he said.

And farmers are having to cope with that unchanging issue by planning ahead.

“Oh, it’s just part of the day. You just do what you have to do,” said Jason Harries.

Harries was part of a four-man team harvesting corn near US-24 Highway east of Rossville on Thursday. He said getting machinery and grain from that farm was easy. But he also works on one across the Kansas River from Rossville, which will require a detour around the Willard Bridge to get to.

“When we sprayed over there, I think it took us 45 minutes to an hour to get around there,” he said. But even his backup plan of using the Maple Hill Bridge has issues. There are smaller bridges around that area that also have weight limits.

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