The City Council adopted a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday urging the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder to enact stricter weight limit controls, penalties and enforcement guidelines to protect state and local roadways and highways.
The City of Sterling Heights mailed letters to Lansing this week containing the resolution.
Michigan has the highest allowable weight for trucks in the United States, 164,000 pounds versus the Federal standard of 80,000 pounds. During the winter of 2017-2018, the City of Sterling Heights and its neighboring municipalities saw a dramatic decrease in the integrity of their major roads, including Mound Road, Van Dyke (M-53), Schoenherr Road, and nearly all of the mile roads. These major roads carry a significant amount of truck traffic and bear the heavy burden of the highest allowable truck weight in the nation. Many of these roads have become virtually impassible, causing damage to vehicles and creating increasingly dangerous driving conditions. The extremely poor condition of these roads reflects poorly on the City, the County, State of Michigan, and the United States.
Since 1982, federal law has required all states to limit gross vehicle weights to 80,000 pounds on the Interstate system and other designated highways, and for certain distances off these highways en route to terminals. The 80,000 pounds are typically spread over five axles, including a three-axle tractor with a tandem-axle semi-trailer—the familiar “eighteen-wheeler.” Michigan, however, has “grandfathered” status, and is not required to comply with the 1982 federal law.
While the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has opined that the current weight limits are not necessarily responsible for excessive road wear because of the state’s unique regulations for weight distribution over additional axles, Sterling Heights leadership believes a real controversy exists as to whether the State’s current permitting process, weight limit controls, and enforcement of the weight limit restrictions is sufficient to protect the integrity of public roads and bridges.
Sterling Heights leadership believes imposition of significantly higher fines on non-compliant vehicle operators may be one method of ensuring compliance with Michigan’s laws governing vehicle size, weight, and load, and the increase in fines would also help to offset the cost associated with road and bridge damages.
“Increased truck weight enforcement is necessary to discourage freight haulers from violating the State’s allowable weight limits to better protect state and local roadways,” said Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor. “Businesses and residents are paying tens of millions of dollars towards the repair and reconstruction of these major roads. It would be derelict to spend this amount of taxpayer monies without making a serious commitment, through legislation, to create stricter weight limit controls, penalties, and enforcement guidelines.”
Those with questions or those seeking more information can contact Community Relations Director Bridget Kozlowski at email@example.com or by calling (586) 446-2471.