Greenwood: Truck study draws heavy loads of doubt

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News
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Last week, I penned a column on a study by a group of high school students showing that trucks hauling up to 164,000 pounds did less harm to Michigan roads than trucks carrying 80,000.

Their findings backed up studies conducted by the Michigan Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Traffic Highway Safety Association.

But based on reader responses, no one is buying it:

■“I agree that 160,000 pounds spread over 11 axles is less damaging to the roads than 80,000 pounds spread over five axles. That is simple arithmetic. However, what is the practice?

“MDOT keeps data on the trucks that get a special permit. It does not keep data on trucks that don’t get a shouldn’t presume those drivers of 160,000 pound loads will use a vehicle that has 11 axles. Since they don’t, the whole rationale falls away.” — Phil Lombard, Ferndale

■“When was the last time you saw a weight station open in Michigan? So five axle trucks could have 160,000 lbs and who would know? I guess all the other states have it wrong!

“So if you want 160,000 pound trucks make it mandatory that weight stations are open 24/7 and any truck caught overweight pays a hefty fine of 10,000 plus an additional 10 dollars for every pound they are overweight.” — Chester Syluk, Shelby Township

■“Using kids is cute but crap. Might as well ask what Mr. GREEN JEANS or the Cookie Monster thinks. How about some engineers from another state? Just pick one. They ALL have better roads than us.” — Jeff Snyder, Wixom

■“I have read a number of articles you’ve written about truck weights and I feel they’re misleading.

“I managed both heavy truck programs and bridging programs. What you have been stating is basically correct when it comes to multiple axle vehicles and their impact on roads...One thing that is not being discussed, however, is the impact on bridges.

“When 164,000 lbs. of truck is on a bridge, that is 164,000 lbs. of truck on the support structure. It does not matter how many axles or tires there are...Each passing reduces that life span, and heavier systems accelerate the reduction in its life.

“Reducing the overall weight of these trucks will reduce the damage to our bridges and increase the lifespan, resulting in less maintenance and lower costs. Forty-nine other states have figured this out.” — Tom Svisco, Shelby Township

Fine print: Many responses were pretty long and contained mathematical formulas that were edited for space, but I tried to keep the flavor of the emails.

(313) 222-2023

Metro Detroit roadwork

I-696: In Farmington, EB and WB will have 15-minute total closures at Drake every hour between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday for utility work.

I-75: In Troy, the SB ramp to EB Big Beaver will have daily ramp closures from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for maintenance.

I-75: In Detroit, the NB and SB ramps to WB I-94 will close from 9 tonight until 5 a.m. Monday for bridge repairs. The NB I-75 detour is NB I-75 to NB M-10 (Lodge Freeway) to WB I-94.

For SB, the detour is SB to NB M-10 to WB I-94.

I-94: In Belleville, WB will have the right lane closed from I-275 to Rawsonville Road from 9 tonight until 7 p.m. Sunday for road repairs.

I-94: In Detroit, EB and WB will have one lane open from the Lodge Freeway to I-75 from 9 p.m. tonight until 5 a.m. Monday for bridge repairs.

I-96/M-14: In Livonia, I-96/M-14 between Sheldon and Haggerty will have the two right lanes closed in each direction from 9 tonight until 5 a.m. Sunday. The M-14 ramps to and from Sheldon will also be closed.

M-8 (Davison): In Detroit, WB ramp to SB M-10 closed for construction from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

I-96: In Livonia, SB over M-14 will have only one lane from 9 p.m. today until 5 a.m. Sunday for bridge repairs.

M-3 (Gratiot): In Detroit, the SB ramp to SB I-375 will close from 9 p.m. tonight until 5 a.m. Monday for bridge repairs. The detour is SB Gratiot to NB I-75 to WB Mack to SB I-75 to SB I-375.

M-10: In Detroit, SB will have two lanes closed from Linwood to I-94 from 9 tonight until 5 a.m. Monday for road work. All exit ramps will be open but entrance ramps within the work zone will be closed. Expect delays.

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