HAPPENED AGAIN: Oversized truck pulls power line down on U.S. 65 in Harrison, Ark.
HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - It happened again.
On Tuesday, a semi-truck with an oversized load pulled down a power line over U.S. 65, southeast of Harrison. It’s the second incident on the stretch of road through Bellefonte in four months. The first incident took place on March 28 for the same reason. Both instances led to extended traffic slowdowns as crews worked to repair the lines.
A spokesperson with Entergy Arkansas says a public damage incident report is filed when this occurs. In the process, Entergy attempts to track down the driver and company responsible.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) provides permits to energy companies to have power lines over the road, which must be at least 18 feet off the ground. But the highway department believes the problem may fall on truck drivers who are not following their permit instructions provided by the Arkansas State Police.
“We have incidences where they don’t even try to get a permit because they know they’ll get denied,” said Stacy Burge, ARDOT District 9 construction engineer. “Of course, fuel is high right now, so they want to go the shortest route possible, and that’s how they’ll plan their route. If they know they’re going to get denied, they won’t ask for the permit. Forgiveness versus permission type deal.”
Burge says oversize load permits are in place to keep heavy loads from going over a weight-restricted bridge and tall loads.
Telling KY3, the standards for power lines are comparable to overpasses or bridges, while incidents between them are seldom. Meanwhile, drivers are left to wait when it does, and businesses along U.S. 65 are impacted.
“The first time something happens, you don’t think much about it, but then when it happens a second time, you do wonder if there is a way to change it,” said Keisha Morrison with Heritage Tractor. “I don’t know if they’re looking at that or not, but I would say they probably need to look at moving the lines further from the road or higher up.”
Morrison says the traffic jams can hurt business and leave service technicians in the field without a way to get back to the building quickly.
“It doesn’t happen frequently, but when it does, customers can’t get in or out,” she said. “There was one customer in here at the time that said he was going to walk home.”
According to Entergy, when the responsible party isn’t determined in a public damage incident, repairs to power lines can be paid for through increases in customer bills.
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