Improved truck weigh stations seen as important tools
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2012
4/28/12 at 4:59 AM
Less than 12 hours after it opened for business on Thursday - and 24 hours before its official grand opening - Oklahoma's first state-of-the-art commercial truck weigh station nabbed its first overweight truck.
State officials declined to release the name of the trucking company whose driver was hauling the overweight load.
They said the truck weight was significantly over the 80,000-pound legal weight limit, and the citation could be challenged in court.
But the partners in the new port of entry (POE), or truck weigh station, in Kay County along Interstate 35 just south of the Kansas border said the new technology and facilities will protect the state's investment in highways, bridges and city streets as well as making Oklahoma motorists safer.
Gary Ridley, director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said the cooperation of ODOT, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will make possible the construction of nine POE stations around the state's borders in the next several years.
"A facility like this takes a lot of time, money and planning," Ridley said. "We commend the corporation commission's commitment and vision on the project and its help to protect the driving public as well as roads and bridges."
Prior to the opening of the $11 million Kay County station, less than 10 percent of commercial vehicles operating on Oklahoma's roads were inspected or weighed, state officials said.
Construction of a second $8.7 million POE is nearing completion along Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma, just east of the Texas border in Beckham County, transportation department officials said.
The state's six 50-year-old truck weigh stations, which are open only eight hours a day, are incapable of monitoring commercial truck traffic in the state, officials said.
"Our current facilities are antiquated sheds," Ridley said.
Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas said the proposed network of POE stations is "essential to the commission's effort to more efficiently regulate the trucking industry and ensure cargo is safely and legally being transported in Oklahoma."
"Our current weigh stations are drastically outdated, unable to handle the huge number of trucks that use Oklahoma's roads, and many are poorly located," Douglas said. "The new POEs will help protect the state's huge investment in roads and improve highway safety."
The Corporation Commission is providing construction funding of the POEs and staffing of the weigh and documents check functions.
ODOT is responsible for building and maintaining the stations, and the Department of Public Safety will staff the inspection facilities at the stations.
The turnpike authority will furnish funding for a POE on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Ottawa County in northeastern Oklahoma.
Dan Case, executive director of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, said the technologically advanced weigh stations are long overdue.
"We want to get all eight built - the quicker, the better," Case said.
David McCorkle, former chairman of the American Trucking Associations and the Oklahoma Trucking Association and CEO of McCorkle Truck Line of Oklahoma City, said the new facilities will lead to safer trucking operations and safer motoring on the state's highways.
"We are happy to salute highway safety today on behalf of our industry," McCorkle said. "It sends a message to the other states."
Overweight trucks are taking a toll on the state's highways, bridges and city streets, state and industry officials said.
The Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences said one legal 80,000-pound tractor-trailer truck does as much damage to road pavement as 9,600 cars.
An illegal overweight truck increases the damage and reduces the life of the pavement even faster, highway engineers say.
A 5 percent increase above the legal 80,000-pound truck weight can result in a 19 percent reduction in pavement life, says the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.
For pavement that was designed and built to last 30 years, trucks 5 percent over the legal weight limit reduce pavement life by 5 1/2 years, AASHTO says.
"As a former mayor, I know how difficult and expensive it is for a city to maintain its streets," Douglas said. "This will not only mean fewer overweight trucks damaging our state's highways but local streets as well."
Truck Port of Entry (weigh station) technology
Technology in use, and soon to
be operational, at Kay County
Interstate 35 station:
• Static scales: for weighing
• Truck traffic control on I-35:
sign flashes “Trucks report
when lights flashing”
• Public address speakers:
directly with driver stopped
• Computer communications:
between station control tower
and driver processing area
• Computer document check:
verification of truck credentials,
safety scores and issuance
• Inspection bay: random truck
safety inspection of brakes,
suspension, frame, etc.
Technology to be installed in near
• Message sign: controllable
message sign at Kansas-Oklahoma
• Weigh-in-motion: electronic
weighing of trucks at highway
speeds on I-35
• License plate reader: electronic
license plate reader on
• Department of Transportation
reader: electronic DOT
number reader on I-35
• Truck dimension reader:
electronic recording of truck
height, weight, length on I-35
• Electronic message sign on
I-35: tells drivers to bypass or
report to POE station
• Off-ramp weigh-in-motion:
weighs trucks as they approach
• Truck traffic control: signals
and controllable messages on
• Software credential check:
automatically checks truck
registration and safety rating
Source: Oklahoma Department of Transportation
Original Print Headline: Improved weigh stations seen as important tools
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451