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167209-1 Report Abstract

Truck Weight Limit Enforcement Technology Applicable to NAFTA Traffic Along the Texas-Mexico Border

Kristin Marie Belfield, Nabil Souny-Slitine, Clyde E. Lee, University of Texas at Austin, December 1999, 95 pp. (167209-1)

Effective truck weight enforcement has become a critical issue as a result of the continual increase in the number of trucks on U.S. and Texas roads, as well as the impending truck-traffic-related provisions of NAFTA. These provisions will enable less restricted trade between the U.S. and Mexico by permitting reciprocal access to roads in both countries. As nearly two-thirds of the U.S./Mexico truck traffic travels through Texas, the protection of Texas highways has become a forefront issue. Feasible alternative technologies that should be considered by policymakers, engineers, and enforcement officers as they attempt to choose optimal truck weight enforcement methods for protecting the existing and future infrastructure are presented in this report.

A review of the current conditions along the Texas/Mexico border, with respect to trade, infrastructure, and weight regulations, provides background information on the subject. The report contains a state-of-the-practice description of static weighing techniques currently used in Texas as well as a description of weigh-in-motion (WIM) technology that might be applicable to weight enforcement. The advantages and disadvantages of WIM sorting vs. traditional static weighing methods are itemized, and different enforcement techniques are evaluated and compared according to their capabilities, constraints, productivity, safety, accuracy, and applicability. Attention is also given to the relative cost of each method, including initial (equipment, construction) and operating (maintenance, personnel) costs. Also, a description and assessment is presented of the first weigh station in Texas (on I-35 near Devine) that utilizes WIM as a sorting device. This experience, as well as the experience of other states, provides further insight into the ability of a WIM system to aid in truck weight limit enforcement. Major highway trade corridors and potential WIM enforcement sites in Texas are identified. Finally, pavement damage implications on two major NAFTA-traffic highways are examined for hypothetical combinations of enforcement rates, violation rates, traffic growth rates, and the year of NAFTA implementation.

Keywords: Weight-In-Motion, Weight Enforcement, NAFTA, Mexico-Texas Truck Traffic, Free Trade Agreement

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 4,304KBytes)