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Oklahoma finally taking steps to check too-heavy trucks

Oklahoma finally taking steps to check too-heavy trucks

This article first appeared in the Oklahoman.

OUR VIEWS: New weigh stations

The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: May 6, 2009

The state highway department can empathize with Curtis Golden.

Golden lives in rural Pittsburg County, in southeastern Oklahoma. Down the road from his residence, a neighbor operates a trucking company out of his home. Golden says it’s routine to have overweight trucks rumbling back and forth, tearing up the roads. One local road has a posted limit of 10 tons; the owner of the trucking company acknowledges his trucks can weigh four times that, but he questions how those limits are calculated.

Golden has sought relief from state officials, to no avail. But that’s no wonder. As The Oklahoman’s Jay Marks reported, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol only has 55 troopers who are involved in keeping an eye on vehicle size and weight compliance. "We’re spread kind of thin,” one trooper said in an understatement.

Oklahoma’s roads and highways have taken a beating from overweight vehicles forever, in large part because there haven’t been resources made available to crack down on this costly problem. We say costly because 18-wheelers do far more damage to highways than do passenger vehicles; when those big rigs are heavier than the 80,000 pounds the law allows on interstates, that damage is multiplied.

A few years ago, a Corporation Commission regulator said investing in highways, as the Legislature was doing at the time, but not taking steps to enforce load limits on trucks, was "like buying a $100,000 Mercedes and putting used tires on it.” Now there is some movement toward upgrading those tires.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Corporation Commission announced last week that they’re planning to build three commercial truck weigh stations by late next year. They are among nine weigh stations that are on the drawing board; the other six will begin to move forward once the first three are completed.

Those three will be built on Interstate 40 near the Texas border, in Beckham County; on I-40 near the Arkansas border, in Sequoyah County; and on I-35 near the Kansas border, in Kay County. The new weigh stations will be equipped with the latest technology, including sensors that can weigh trucks in motion and a computer database that will allow officials to check quickly if a truck is permitted properly.

When they’re completed, the nine new weigh stations will replace the 11 scattered around the state that are all old and outdated. In fact only four are even operating regularly, which means truckers who break the law rarely have to worry about getting pinched here. "It’s been embarrassing,” Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud told the Tulsa World.

That embarrassment is eventually coming to an end, and not a moment too soon.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Curtis Golden wrote:
A large portion of our state and federal tax dollars are being wasted on our county roads because the weight limits are not being enforced. the ohp size and weights division will not enforce county roads, they only patrol the main highways, If you don't believe me look at where the citations are issued. the executive officer troop S told me that they did not get involved in local politics that it was the sheriffs job to enforce county roads. I believe that all counties sheriffs and DA's need to be involved in size and weights enforcement our roads and bridges are valuable assets that we must protect. But when the ohp is notified of a size and weights crime being committed and will not even take the time to investigate or return a call something is seriously wrong! I think they forget they are a branch of the oklahoma department of public safety.

Mon, May 18, 2009 @ 10:09 PM

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