In 2020 the Marshall County Commissioners were made aware of a steel-wheeled tractor in the southern part of the county that was driving on county roadways. At that time there was concern for damage that could be done to county roads and without an ordinance prohibiting such, there was no good way to penalize the culprit.
County Highway Superintendent Jason Peters presented a copy of state code 9-21-8-47 which the county might be able to use or use as an example to write their own ordinance. The information was provided to Peters from County Council member Jon Van Vactor.
Peters told the commissioners, “We’ve run into a few different scenarios throughout the county where we’ve seen machinery on roads. It could be anything. We’ve seen steel plated, bulldozers, excavators, you name it.” He went on to say, “It pretty much give us right to pursue that to an extent. If we notice it and actually submit them an invoice to pay or then can turn it into their insurance.”
Peters said he has given his employees a copy of the state code and told them if they see something out of the ordinary to note the date, time, location and if possible, the address where it came from or is going to.
County Attorney Jim Clevenger said the copy of the state code is not a binding document so giving it to a driver of the equipment does not mean they are going to pay for damages. The attorney went on to say that the county would have to provide proof that their equipment did the damage with pictures of following them to their destination.
Commissioners Stan Klotz said the county has nothing in place to protect them from this type of damage. He said, “We need something in place to start.”
The county commissioners asked the County Attorney to do some research on the state code and possibly create an ordinance for the county with some language for violations and a way to recover damage costs.
A copy of the state code is posted below.
Section 9-21-8-47 – Vehicles that must be operated to avoid damage to highways or interference with traffic
The following vehicles must be moved or operated so as to avoid any material damage to the highway or unreasonable interference with other highway traffic:
(1) Machinery or equipment used in highway construction or maintenance by the Indiana department of transportation, counties, or municipalities.(2) Farm drainage machinery.(3) Implements of agriculture.(4) Firefighting apparatus owned or operated by a political subdivision or a volunteer fire department (as defined in IC 36-8-12-2 ).(5) Farm vehicles loaded with farm products.