Harvest time means motorists sharing roadways with combines and haulers

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - When the new intersection on Highway 67/167 North opens to Cash it will mean a lot more traffic on 226 both East and West.

Drivers on the road will have to contend with harvesting equipment for a longer period of time due to the late harvest. Besides more traffic, size of the equipment will be an issue.

Joe Christian who farms in the Cash area stood in front of his International Combine and it's 20 foot header.

"Our combine is wider now than when I started farming with the header."

Which means that just the combine itself is now bigger than the whole machine used to be.

You generally run into this kind of equipment on dirt roads but since so many farmers are spread out they occasionally have to resort to main highways and a good portion of today's equipment has outgrown the roads.

Christian, "We have to pretty much take up both sides just to get down the road with our combines."

226 has only 1 Cache river crossing so farmers who farm on both sides must squeeze through narrow bridges.

At the Jackson/Craighead county line 226 is 24 feet wide with sharply sloped shoulders. On the Craighead side 226 narrows to 19 feet wide. The bridge is only about 24 feet wide, the newest John Deere combine almost has to take the front dual tires off to get across the bridge.

Basically taking the size of the equipment into consideration you don't have a lot of wiggle room when a semi meets a large tractor or something larger.

And with the late harvest there will be lots of grain semi's on the road. Marty Eaton the manager of Cache River Valley Seed says soybean harvest is their busiest time.

"We get very busy, we'll have a lot of days we'll have 70 to 80 trucks a day coming in here, big trucks, you know, trailer trucks."

Even with their expansive parking lot and room to turn, Eaton says there have been accidents.

"People not paying attention and a truck slowing down and they think  they need to pass it when they don't."

When 67 opens there will be a  lot of people driving on unfamiliar roads and having to share it with a huge piece of farm machinery means drivers need to slow down and pay attention when they meet a 22 foot wide combine on a 25 foot wide road.

©2009 KAIT
ll rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.