Are Heavy Trucks To Blame For Michigan's Poor Roads?

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Michigan has the highest truck weight limit in the nation by more than 40 tons.

A fact that's caused some people to question the billions of dollars Governor Snyder wants to spend on road maintenance, but there is almost no arguing about the state of Michigan's roads.

"They could use some improvements," Juan Saldana said. "There's a lot of potholes out there, and you hit them and it throws your whole alignment off."

Other drivers say it's gone on too long.

"They've been let go, I think they need to be upgraded," Steve Pettinger said.

The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, or MITA, agrees.

"We have not invested adequately in our transportation network, and we're seeing that particularly at the local level," MITA Executive Director Mike Nystrom said.

But what some drivers are seeing are a lot of heavy trucks weighing up to 164,000 pounds with a special permit, more than twice the federal limit. People argue if the weight was lowered, it might save money in the long run.

"They're big and they take up a lot of space on the road, and you wonder, what are they doing to the roads?" Gabrielle Kiraz said. "Because they are heavy and have a lot of extra weight, and I'm sure that has something to do with it."

The Board of Jackson County Road Commissioner's managing director said truck weight is a major concern for the roads, especially in their high truck traffic on I-94. Experts say lowering the weight isn't the answer though.

"By lowering our truck weights, we're actually going to have a negative impact on our economy because businesses are going to have to adjust," Nystrom said. "They're going to have to change their truck configurations, and that's only going take us backwards with regards to our economy and jobs."

Nystrom said even though Michigan has the highest gross weight limit for truck, the per axle is low compared to other states. By spreading out the weight, it actually reduces the wear and tear on the state's roads and bridges, though building them in the first place can be more expensive.

"We may be putting more into them, but they're safer as well," Nystrom said.

Experts say Michigan's weather has more impact on road deterioration than heavy trucks.

Only about 5 percent of trucks in Michigan carry more than 80,000 lbs.

The state is allowed to have a higher weight limit than the federal government allows because Michigan has been grand-fathered in.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Name Location: Location on Jan 28, 2013 at 07:24 AM
    Every one is a problem. The only fair way to keep the roads in premium condition is to make them all toll roads and charge people for the use of them. It also comes down to lowest bidder often wins and some of these companies do take short cuts. The other option is to start looking at mass transportation of people. Most people would love to take mass transit if it was not so expensive. I would not giving up one of my vheicles if I could have a general pass that allows me to use public transportation in any city in mchigan and move between two cities for less. If I needed to go to atlanta, i would notmind getting on the bus to go to central station then to the airport. But to take the michigan flyer to detroit every day imore expensive than driving.
  • by Name Location: Location on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM
    Michigan's roads have several problems. We have catered to the tree huggers and not allowed DOT to cut trees and the ditches can not drain causeing water under the road because it can not get to creeks or rivers. We go with the low bid and get exacally that quality work. We use way more salt than is necessary because we are near the capitol and people do not know how to drive or slow down. Many many more to list.
  • by ann Location: name on Jan 24, 2013 at 09:58 AM
    Wasn't a major road contractor allegedly indicted for NOT using government spec materials on government roads. Perhaps inferior materials is also a factor.
  • by john on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM
    I believe heavy trucks are only a part of the problem. I think the bigger issue is poor management. Michigan is the 6th highest state on gasoline tax. Michigan ranks 35th in the nation, in state highway performance and cost effectiveness, according to the 19th Annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation. Michigan is ranked 45th by stateintegrity.org. The State should get its management in order before passing additional taxes. Write to your state representatives. http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysenator/fysenator.htm http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/
  • by Name Location: Location on Jan 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM
    Kelly, think about it. Tax the semis and they increase their delivery rates to the stores. The stores increase the self price you pay for your goods. Any more questions on who pays! 51% of the uniformed!?!?!?
  • by Glenn Location: Eaton Rapids on Jan 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM
    Semi's responsible for Mich roads? Yeah right. Get a clue. The semi's travel in other states as well as Mich, why aren't those states roads as poor as Mich roads are then? Canada roads are awesome compared to Mich. Colorado roads? Minnesota roads? We all get the same weather, 4 seasons, we all have semi trucks transporting our goods. IMO Mich roads are horrible because the DOT uses salt on the icy roads unlike other states. What does the salt do to your vehicle there Kelly in Jackson? Your ridiculous post suggesting that semi trucks are the reason Mich roads are as bad as they are is because of your lack of knowledge about the roads. Compare apples to apples. You're grasping at straws by blaming big trucks.
  • by Anonymous Location: Location on Jan 23, 2013 at 09:53 AM
    @ Kelly, even if they tax the semis, you will still pay because the cost will trickle down through increase of product cost and higher freight charges.
  • by Brian Location: Hillsdale on Jan 23, 2013 at 07:35 AM
    I believe there are a number of factors that damage our roads. One of my number one concerns is Amish horse and buggies, and steel wheeled tractors or wagons. This may not be an issue everywhere but in Hillsdale county I notice it. Alot of Amish hire big trucks to deliver their crops and animals. Are these people buying plates for their buggies? No!!! They are required in Indiana. Are these people being taxed for having a business with loading docks like us so called "English" people do? I`m not seeing it! These people are robbing the taxpayers blind. What makes this group of people any better? Yes, I am targeting these people for anyone that hasn`t caught on! They want to be segregated, so that`s what they get. This is only a small amount of info on what these groups get away with while some of them are turning over more than $100,000 a year and receiving state benefits for their families. What a fine state and country we live in!
  • by David Location: Charlotte on Jan 23, 2013 at 07:02 AM
    Heres a solution to the problem BUILD BETTER ROADS ITS A NO BRAINER
  • by Anonymous on Jan 23, 2013 at 07:00 AM
    I believe heavy trucks are only a part of the problem. I believe the bigger issue is poor management. Michigan is the 6th highest state on gasoline tax. Michigan ranks 35th in the nation, in state highway performance and cost effectiveness, according to the 19th Annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation. Michigan is ranked 45th by stateintegrity.org. The State should get its management in order before passing additional taxes. Write to your state representatives. http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysenator/fysenator.htm http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/
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