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Road to ruin: Waller blames fertilizer trucks

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RUSTY WELLER
Ellis County Press Managing Editor
WAXAHACHIE - Heavy trucks hauling dry Dallas sewage for farmers' fields are ruining Ellis County roads.

'I can't believe how quickly it tears up a county road,' said County Commissioner Charlie Waller. 'And I can't believe how the state lets these trucks on a road not designed for such use. They'll murder a county road in two days.'

The hefty trucks, operating out of the Dallas sewage treatment plant, reportedly weigh 82,000 pounds and carry a load of 5,000 pounds more.

'On a hot day you practically can see the ruts deepen as each truck passes,' Waller said. 'They're tearing up the farm-to-market roads, too.'

Farmers, though, are finding the Environmental Protection Program attractive. Not only are they getting free fertilizer in the form of dried human waste, they are paid to participate. And there's no way to hold the farmers or the trucking company accountable for road damage.

'There's not a dang thing I can do,' Waller said, 'as long as they've got a permit.'

Texas lawmakers passed a bill in 1989 allowing 82,000-pound trucks to use county and FM roads. 'The legislature made a mistake,' Waller said. 'I don't think they expected haulers to do this.

'Every once in a while a big truck is okay, but not constantly,' he said. 'It's the constant weight of several trucks over a day or two that does the damage.'

All Ellis County taxpayers will be sharing the bill for ruined roads, and Waller admitted he is stumped about how to resolve the costly problem — $35,000 to $40,000 per mile in road repairs. 'If the stuff was hauled in a vehicle designed for use on county roads, it'd be fine,' he said.

When people complain about suddenly deteriorating roads or more money being spent to repair them, 'I'll tell them to call their state representative,' Waller said.

'But, as a commissioner, you ask yourself, why should I spend good money to fix roads when they'll just be torn up again?' he added.

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