Magistrates expressed concern over damages being done to county roads by coal and logging companies throughout the county. The concerns were aired during the Harlan Fiscal Court meeting on Thursday. Suggestions were made to make companies pay for the wear and tear they’re causing Harlan County roads.
“I’m getting a lot of calls about the log and coal trucks on our roads, which are overweight and destroying our county roads,”said magistrate Bill Moore. “They are, in fact, destroying our roads — my roads in District 2 for sure.”
Magistrate Delbert Stephens said California Hollow in Jesse’s Creek at Coldiron was “destroyed.” He said citizens were being “put in the ditch” while driving on the roadway and the logging company is refusing to cooperate when asked to send escorts with their vehicles “coming off the mountain” to protect the residents.
County Road Supervisor Marvin Goins told magistrates bonds need to be set for coal and logging companies so that when the roads are destroyed the companies will be responsible for repairing them instead of the county.
“In District 5, I put five slabs on a bridge because a 992 end loader was taken across it and broke them,” said Goins. “Now that they are finished up there I’m going to have to put five more slabs in there and you guys are paying for them. Bonding needs to be set on these roads.”
Magistrate David Kennedy said when the late Jim Roark was magistrate, the county held the coal company liable for Banner Fork Road, which was destroyed in his district.
“The coal company agreed to it, but it was never done,” said Stephens. “Now, they’re gone.”
Stephens asked if the logging industry fell under the same regulations as coal haul roads and he was told by Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop they were not.
“You also have the situation of the coal haul roads,” said Grieshop. “So, when it comes to the coal industry that’s what the coal haul road designation is supposed to cover the repair of those roads. There’s very little regulations when it comes to the logging industry.”
Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe said according to KRS 177.979, a cooperating agreement between the Department of Highways and Transportation of coal in vehicles exceeding maximum weight limits on state maintained systems, bonds may be set to compensate the county for damage to the roads caused by the company’s trucks. The statute maintains if the company doesn’t repair the damage, then the county would receive the money from the bonds to make the repairs.
Regulation of the coal mining industry in Kentucky is by the Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Mining regulations have been developed to ensure that mining is conducted in a way that protects the environment, the public and the land.
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