Hay truck mishaps keep emergency crews on the job

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nebraska was a "fly over" state long before airliners were invented, but most of the traffic ran east and west, rather than north and south.

That's not the situation now, when Highway 83 has become a major "hay corridor" for huge semi trucks hauling big round bales of fodder to drought-ravaged Texas.

One official estimated 50 trucks a day roll through the area, but we think that may be a conservative estimate, and that's only those that take Highway 83.

The vast majority of them make it safely, but emergency crews have been keeping busy taking care of those that don't. Red Willow Western Rural Fire Department has responded to two hay truck fires this fall, and helped out with a wreck Tuesday McCook's west intersection, U.S. Highways 83 and 6-34.

Tuesday's wreck involved a truck that for some reason didn't make the sharp corner required to turn down B Street before heading back south at the Sixth Street viaduct.

McCook isn't an easy town for trucks to drive through, but improving the route would be a difficult proposition as well.

Creating a bypass heading straight south from the intersection would be cost prohibitive because of the elevations involved, not to mention disruption of a business, sale barn and railroad. It might be possible to "round" out the corner to make it easier for hay trucks and semis carrying oversized freight like wind turbine blades. That wouldn't help the situation at East Sixth and B, where trucks are forced to make a sharp right onto the viaduct, disrupting traffic as well.

It's good that hay is available to help out livestock producers in the south, and farmers in the north are able to fill that need by shipping it south. That's what commerce is all about.

It's also good that so many trucks make the long and expensive trip safely, due in no small part to strict enforcement of trucking regulations.

The hay situation is temporary, we hope, but as the economy revives, Highway 83 is likely to resume its importance as a north-south travel corridor.

Southwest Nebraskans need to plan now on the best ways to cope with, and benefit from, that increased traffic.

View 1 comment
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • At one time, there was a U.S. Highway 83 Association that was active from its farthest reaches in Manitoba all the way down to Brownsville, Texas. Its members were involved in improving the highway conditions and promoting tourism along the road. The association fizzled out in the 1990s. Maybe it is time to revitalize it.

    Today, there is one website that is devoted to promoting the highway as a great place to travel.


    There is also an active Fans of U.S. Route 83 Facebook page open to anyone that shares news items (such as this) fun facts, photos and travel tips.

    -- Posted by stewmag@hotmail.com on Wed, Nov 30, 2011, at 1:02 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: