Mike Hall, marketing of Titan Machinery, Fargo, N.D., and host of the event, welcomes everyone.
Case Construction Equipment recently partnered with the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) to bring the “Dire States” tour to rural Illinois and highlight the issue of weight-limited and structurally deficient bridges in the United States.
The tour visited a collapsed bridge in DeKalb County that has been closed since 2008. The Keslinger Road Bridge, which spans the Kishwaukee River, provided access to 640 acres of farmland and served as a critical passageway for agricultural commerce in the region. The total traffic detour is approximately 16.7 mi. (26.9 km). ISA estimates the net annual benefit of the bridge to the region at $1.09 million, with every $1 invested in replacing the bridge providing a $37.27 return-on-investment to local commerce.
According to the DeKalb County Daily Chronicle, a settlement was reached just two weeks after the original Dire States event at the Keslinger Road Bridge. The agreement will allow the bridge to be rebuilt at no cost to local government.
“The return on investment for replacing this bridge makes high-end tech stock look like a low-yield investment,” said Dan McNichol, best-selling author and industry journalist traveling the country on the Dire States tour. “It is important that this broken bridge is pulled out of the creek and returned to the farmers and community who are forced to drive out of their way every time they’re not able to cross it. It’s a burden on every farmer, large and small.”
“This location perfectly isolates the problem each closed or weight-limited bridge creates,” said Jim Hasler, vice president, Case Construction Equipment, North America. “Transportation costs and travel time increase, extra fuel is burned and more wear-and-tear is put on vehicles. The diversion of traffic puts extra stress on surrounding roads and bridges, and the cost-per-bushel increases significantly. When you extrapolate these issues out to all bridges and industries throughout the U.S., the true cost becomes evident.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), as part of its Infrastructure Report Card, said that nearly 25 percent of the nation’s bridges are either classified as functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. The same report cites the Federal Highway Administration as calling for $20.5 billion in annual investment, while only $12.8 billion is currently spent per year on American bridges. The need for investment is felt strongly throughout America’s industrial community and affects each business’ bottom line and ability to grow.
“ISA has set a goal to utilize 600 million bushels of Illinois soybeans annually by 2020,” said Paul Rasmussen, a soybean farmer from Genoa, Ill., and ISA transportation committee vice chair. “If rural bridges are closed or weight-restricted, if county roads continue to crumble, if locks and dams are not functioning at full capacity — what will happen when we need to move even larger crops? This question is the real driver of ISA’s increased focus on transportation. We are now taking the knowledge we’ve gained from studies we’ve funded, and are leveraging that information to shift from talking about the issues to actually fixing them.”