by: Richard Thompson Updated:
Starting at midnight Wednesday, big commercial trucks will face temporary but severe weight and speed restrictions on Thurston County roads.
The goal is to prevent serious cracking as the roads thaw from the deep freeze. "It starts thawing from the top, you get a lot of heavy loading and it just damages the pavement," says Lucy Mills, the Thurston County road operations manager.
The Port of Olympia says the restrictions will mean about a 30 percent drop in trucks delivering logs to the Port. It's much worse news for Miles Sand and Gravel near Lacey. "We're shut down basically. We can't move a vehicle off the property," Miles Sand and Gravel official Scott Woodard tells KIRO-7. Because of the restriction, none of the companies heavy cement, sand and gravel trucks will be able to get out of the yard and to customers. Woodard says "It's frustrating for everyone involved, not only the employees but the customers, everybody's livelihood has kinda been put in jeopardy."
Emergency vehicles like firetrucks are exempt, along with school buses and trucks hauling perishable goods.
County officials are already talking to a lot of upset business owners worried the restrictions will hurt their bottom line. Those violating the restrictions could face up to a $400 fine.
Thurston County officials say they will lift the restrictions as soon as possible, but they need to protect the roads so taxpayers don't end up paying big bucks to fix damage. Lucy Mills says "It could be significant damage that could cost the county thousands potentially millions of dollars."
The county will reevaluate the road conditions to see if the thaw is complete on Monday. That is the earliest the restrictions could be lifted.