, Former U of M Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
Across the state of Minnesota, asphalt roads under the jurisdiction of counties, cities and townships have been controlled by restrictions that limit the total weight of each truck that uses those roads during the spring thaw period. During this time, the pavement weakens and the bearing capacity of the roadway is reduced. These policies vary from county to county and from road to road, depending on the capacity of the roads--typically, 5, 7 and 9 tons. While spring load restrictions serve to extend the useful life of the road, they also add significant burdens to truckers who are forced to re-route their vehicles and/or increase the number of trips in order to adhere to the policies. This study assesses the economic impact of lifting all vehicle restrictions during the spring thaw period. Economic benefits of lifting the bans include reduced cost to carriers; potential cost includes reduced pavement life. Their research concludes that if the policy is changed, the costs of additional damage could be recovered from those who use the roads. Recovering those costs could take the form of annual fees, appropriate fuel taxes and/or user charges paid by vehicle operators.