Life in Greenacres can be pretty idyllic – except when a 33-ton cattle-carrying semitrailer comes roaring southbound along Barker Road bound for the Tri-Cities or who-knows-where.
It not only interrupts the tranquility of an area known for its agricultural life and quiet walks along the river, but detractors say it can be dangerous for those walking along the heavily used arterials and it can be structurally damaging for those same roadways.
For that reason, Spokane County’s lobbyist and representatives from the city of Spokane were to attend a public hearing in Olympia on Wednesday regarding House Bill 1922, which would require vehicles over 65,000 pounds and carrying cattle to stop at all weigh stations for inspection. If passed into law, that would mean Canadian cattle shippers could no longer skirt the weigh station at the Idaho border by using eastern Spokane County and city of Spokane Valley roadways and would instead have to stick to the more appropriate highways.
The bill, which is sponsored by 4th District Rep. Matt Shea, who represents the Spokane Valley area, got the endorsement of Commissioner Todd Mielke and Board Chairman Al French on Tuesday.
Commissioner Mark Richard, who has expressed his support in the past, was not present. When the topic was discussed in January, however, he said he wanted to make sure that the bill would be specific enough not to impede local businesses.
Since then, however, the bill has gone though revisions to make it specific to the situation in Spokane County and, in particular, Spokane Valley.
“It’s a big issue,” said Commissioner Todd Mielke. “(The truck drivers) are on a tight schedule and don’t want to take the time for a safety inspection.”
He said there has been special care in crafting a bill that specifically regulates out-of-state truck traffic but does not impede area shippers by simply restricting the weight on all vehicles.
“We need to be able to restrict these vehicles without hurting local businesses,” he said.
French agreed, saying “we want to be on the supporting side of this bill.”
The bill was introduced on behalf of the Association of Washington Cities and the city of Spokane Valley.