Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State of Okla. Finds $54M in Funding to Build Nine New Weigh Stations

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State of Okla. Finds $54M in Funding to Build Nine New Weigh Stations

Article excerpt

After years of asking the Legislature for the funding to address Oklahoma's dilapidated weigh stations, the two state agencies held responsible for their operation and maintenance found another way.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission will take $54 million from its Petroleum Storage Tank Indemnity Fund to help the Oklahoma Department of Transportation build nine new inspection stations across the state. Money in the Petroleum Storage Tank Indemnity Fund comes from a 1-cent-per-gallon assessment on gasoline when purchased by retailers on the wholesale level.

The OCC is charged with operating the weigh stations; ODOT has the responsibility of maintaining the facilities. The entire project is expected to cost $61 million and take six years to complete.

The new facilities will be fitted with the latest technology, allowing trucks to be weighed and inspected without their ever having to stop.

The agencies are exploring technologies employed in other states, including motion weights and infrared scanners to check the condition of trucks' brakes or even to scan the cargo for bombs or other security risks. Only those trucks significantly in excess of their legal weight limit would be pulled over for closer evaluation.

Overweight trucks destroy the infrastructure much faster than ODOT could ever make repairs. One truck loaded to its legal limit causes the same amount of damage to a road as 9,000 passenger vehicles, said Gary Ridley, ODOT director. Trucks loaded in excess of their legal weight limit cause a disproportionate share of damage to the roadway, cutting years off of the expected useful life of a road each time an overweight truck passes through.

The Legislature dramatically increased funding for ODOT in recent years to help the department address a multibillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs to roads and bridges. In 2007, the Legislature also provided a funding source for ongoing maintenance of the weigh stations, directing some of the money from permitting fees toward the Weigh Station Improvement Revolving Fund. …

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