Minnesota seeks feedback on 10-year Weight Enforcement Investment Plan
January 16, 2020
With a nearly $96 million future funding gap for truck weight enforcement, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has published a draft 10-year Weight Enforcement Investment Plan. MnDOT seeks feedback on the plan.
In collaboration with the Minnesota State Patrol, MnDOT developed the 10-year investment plan to ensure future compliance with federal requirements. After considering the need for more stations, the plan calculated 10-year capital costs at $73.5 million. However, only $25 million of funding exists. Furthermore, operations/maintenance will cost an additional $47.3 million, resulting in nearly $96 million in needed funding.
Considering the majority of weigh stations in Minnesota were built 20-30 years ago and truck traffic is expected to increase over the next decade, that funding will be needed.
Minnesota has six state-owned fixed-site weigh scales:
- St. Croix (Interstate 94 westbound in Washington County).
- Erskine (U.S. 2 and U.S. 59 in Polk County).
- Saginaw (U.S. 2 and MN 33 in Saint Louis County).
- Red River (I-94 eastbound in Clay County).
- Worthington (Interstate 90 eastbound in Nobles County).
- Dayton Port (U.S. 10 in Anoka County).
In addition to the weigh stations, Minnesota operates four pull-off sites and 16 weigh-in-motion installations.
The Weight Enforcement Investment Plan identifies eight issues to address:
- Investment in existing facilities.
- Inspection buildings.
- Coordination of enforcement pull-off areas.
- Improved weigh-in-motion utilization.
- Portable scale replacement plan.
- Increased Minnesota State Patrol staffing.
- Education and outreach.
- Additional weight enforcement facilities.
One recommendation is to install more inspection buildings. According to the weight enforcement plan, inspections are becoming more difficult to physically access the undercarriage due to low clearance and new equipment mounted on the underside of trucks. The Minnesota State Patrol plans to increase its annual number of inspections statewide by about 50%.
New inspection buildings will include pits for easier and quicker access. The plan recommends new inspection building at St. Croix and Red River. Also, additional patrol operations away from fixed weigh stations to new pull-off locations may help reach the inspection goal.
The plan also suggests increasing Minnesota State Patrol staffing. Currently, there are about 12 local agencies in Minnesota with a total of only 13 officers certified to perform truck inspections. To reach the inspection goal, the plan recommends three new fixed weigh stations: Interstate 94 near St. Cloud, Interstate 35 south of Minneapolis and Interstate 90 near Rochester.
The annual weight enforcement baseline funding for 2017 totaled $2.5 million: $1.6 million for maintenance (64%), $600,000 for existing facility improvements (24%), $250,000 for weigh-in-motion (10%) and $50,000 for pull-offs (2%). No money was spent on new facilities.
The 10-year outlook baseline funding will be the same per year, but with a slight shift in allocations: $15 million for preservation (60%), $9 million for improvements (36%), $750,000 for weigh-in-motion (3%) and $250,000 for pull-offs (1%).
Results of a June 2018 MnDOT survey revealed that other drivers are the biggest safety concern for truck drivers.
Other top concerns include roadway conditions, ELDs/HOS and areas to rest. By a large margin, the Twin Cities area was cited as the most in need for additional investment in weight enforcement. When ranking trucking needs, roadway maintenance ranked the highest with an 8.9 out of 10 rating, followed by truck parking (6.9) and weigh-in-motion systems (5.2).
The full Weight Enforcement Investment Plan can be viewed here.
MnDOT is seeking public feedback on the draft 10-year Minnesota Weight Enforcement Investment Plan through Jan. 24. Comments and questions can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Julie Whitcher, Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations, MS 470, 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN, 55155.