- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Complaints about trucks tearing up parish roads have prompted the St. Landry Parish Council to re-examine how road-use permits are issued and how the parish can force those causing the damage to pay for repairs.

Council member Pam Gautreau told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1sGTJY0) that oilfield trucks have caused extensive damage to Mouton and Savoie roads, documented by photographs and by complaints made to the Sheriff’s Office.

Council member Wayne Ardoin said the parish once had a road inspector authorized to issue citations for damage.

However, Parish President Bill Fontenot said the parish public works department does not have enough personnel to investigate companies that fail to obtain permits and might be suspected of damaging roads. He said parish policy gives the public works director authority to ask the parish sheriff to handle such investigations.

Gautreau also said the parish approved an ordinance in 1989 to require companies using parish roads to present a $25,000 surety bond before obtaining a road-use permit.

Councilman Ronald Buschel said any proposed increases in the amount of the surety bond or filing litigation against companies that damage roads would hurt agricultural operations.

“If we increase (the bond) to $125,000, we will put the majority of farmers and trucking companies out of business. When we tried to raise it before, we had a (meeting room) full of farmers who said they would rather go to court than pay for the increases,” Buschel said.

Councilman Jerry Red Jr. said it is time to raise the bond amount.

“When did we decide on $25,000? Was it 1900?” Red said.

The council asked parish attorney Lance Pitre to investigate steps St. Landry might take against companies whose trucks damage roads.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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