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County grants variance to pipeline trucks

Staff writer

Marion County Commission voted Monday to grant a variance for weight limits on county roads to TransCanada for construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Trucks hauling segments of pipe are expected to weigh about 80,000 pounds when loaded, but the weight limit for trucks on county roads is 65,000 pounds.

Commissioners voted to allow TransCanada to haul up to 80,000-pound loads on designated routes. Commissioner Randy Dallke voted against granting the variance. He said he wanted to remind TransCanada that the county will not simply rubber-stamp whatever requests the company makes.

The company will have to make arrangements with cities if its trucks use city streets, Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.

TransCanada plans to unload pipe segments from the railroad at Florence. The company will then haul the pipes to a storage yard at the intersection of 290th and Quail Creek roads. During construction, pipes will be taken from the storage yard to the work site.

Engineering company Kirkham Michael, of Ellsworth, will inspect roads and bridges before making a recommendation of the best route for hauling pipes and equipment, pending TransCanada approval.

The contract stipulates that Kirkham Michael will not guarantee roads and bridges on the route will not be damaged. Road and Bridge Superintendent John Summerville said he expected TransCanada to want a guarantee, to avoid liability for damage on the haul route.

TransCanada wants Marion County to hire Kirkham Michael, and then TransCanada would reimburse the county for the cost. Holub said he would prefer TransCanada make the contract directly with Kirkham Michael.

Department for Elderly changes name

Marion County Department for Elderly’s name was changed to Marion County Department on Aging at the request of the board of Senior Citizens of Marion County. Director Gayla Ratzlaff said board members commented that they dislike the stigma carried by the word “elderly.”

Holub asked if the change would cause any problems interacting with state agencies. Ratzlaff said it wouldn’t be an issue; most county agencies use “on aging” in their names.

Ratzlaff said she would order supplies with the new name as old supplies ran out, rather than ordering all new.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2009

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