The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 February 2006

Do something, even if it's wrong

About eleventeen-bazillion bills get introduced into the State Legislature every session, and I suspect not even the lobbyists can keep track of all of them. House Bill 2743, by Ryan Kiesel (D-Seminole), got through committee mostly unnoticed; Tom Elmore dropped me a line about it, and I decided I'd give it a read.

A. For the purposes of creating a free-flow of traffic and the promotion of public safety, certain motor vehicles shall be permitted to bypass a required stop pursuant to subsection B of this section.

B. Any motor vehicle required to stop at a weigh station located on the highways of this state, pursuant to the size, weight and load provisions under Section 14-101 et seq. of Title 47 of the Oklahoma Statutes, shall be allowed to bypass such weigh station when the station is at full occupancy. Full occupancy shall be determined by a painted line and sign at a designated location on the exit lane that allows access to the weigh station. When a motor vehicle comes to a stop behind the other motor vehicles on the exit lane for the weigh station and any part of that motor vehicle is on or over the designated line, then the station is at full occupancy. The designation of the line shall be determined by the Department of Public Safety and an agreement for the placement of any sign shall be made with the Department of Transportation.

I have to admire the simplicity of this bill: "Weigh station too crowded? Just speed on by!" Kiesel's press release contains this explanation:

"[E]ven if the legislature appropriates the money for the renovation of our weigh stations, it could still be more than a decade before the safety concerns caused by congestion are remedied and House Bill 2743 gives us the opportunity to address this situation now."

"Safety concerns"?

Kiesel drafted the legislation in response to fatal traffic accidents in which semi-trucks waiting at weigh stations backed up into interstate traffic and were then struck from behind by passenger vehicles.

Oh. I see. Because we have inattentive drivers in cars, we must occasionally waive the laws for truckers.

Obvious question: if the problem is inadequate weigh stations, why are we not spending the money to upgrade them?

Posted at 8:09 AM to Soonerland

Or at the very least, give them longer inflow ramps.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:07 AM on 25 February 2006

Then again, this is Oklahoma; we have freeway onramps long enough to hold a car and a third, maybe.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:42 PM on 25 February 2006

While that was cycling through the database, a line from Jerry Reed's "Lord, Mr. Ford" popped into my head:

"Now the average American father and mother own one whole car and half another / And I bet that half a car's a trick to drive, don't you?"

Posted by: CGHill at 5:46 PM on 25 February 2006

If all of us truckers used PrePass it would help considerably, but my company isn't interested in spending the extra money. We haul oversized loads with temporary permits in most states, so we don't qualify in those states anyway. OK is one of the states we don't buy yearly oversize permits for. It would save us time when empty only.

It's not just weigh stations being elderly, it's the roads, too. Neither were designed for the traffic loads they carry now. Oklahoma isn't the only state that has this problem - there are lots of states that need new bridges, wider roads, better sight lines - etc.

I was on US64 between Enid and Alva a few weeks back - man that road is hurting. Narrow bridges with rotting concrete rails, rough surface and just plain narrow period. That was a US highway, too. Lots of state highways in that area and points east are worse. I'm not ragging on OK roads - I can point to many in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah and Iowa as well - we all have deteriorating roads beyond the major cities. Michigan seems to have some of the worst. I live in western Kansas where it seems our tax money goes to the latest "improvement" to Kellogg in Wichita.

Anyways, this particular issue is a symptom of greater problems to my way of thinking.

Posted by: Jeffro at 10:37 PM on 26 February 2006