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Government and Politics

Ohio counties look for different ways to keep roads safe
A full-time weights and inspections unit will allow police officers to bring department scales and measuring equipment

Cpl. Pete Prybal pulls out the sliding weights and measures equipment from the rear of his newly customized F-350.
Courtesy of Tana Weingartner, WVXU
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With federal highway funding stalled, states are looking for different ways to keep roadways safe and in good repair.

For Ohio Public Radio, WVXU’s Tana Weingartner reports that Hamilton County is adding a full-time Weights & Inspections Unit, one of fewer than 30 counties statewide to do so.

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Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Pete Prybal has a new ride. The customized Ford F-350 looks like a suburban and comes with a pull-out rack holding the department's scales and measuring equipment. He’s had it a week and half and has already weighed 17 trucks, had 22 equipment violations and issued 26 warnings.

How does that compare?

“It’s a lot more,” says Prybal. “We never had a full-time unit before so we’d have to rely on someone to get the scales to us on the scene where we got the violator at, and sometimes the scales were not available.”

Prybal says it’s important to catch violators because overweight trucks have a harder time stopping, posing a serious safety risk to other drivers.

Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard calls the truck an innovative way to help preserve roads.

“One pass of a tractor-trailer is worth about 10,000 passes of a car.”

Hubbard adds that with budget cuts and a 17 percent increase in road construction costs, something has to be done.

“That’s eating away at our budget. We have to preserve the system so we have to make sure that the vehicles that use our roadways are not overweight.”

Funding for the weights and inspections unit is a bit unusual as well. Earlier this year, the engineer’s office and the sheriff’s department got together to take on the program together.

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