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Posts tagged: trucking

Cars pay more, trucks pay less, and Idaho’s road-funding gap grows

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how Idaho motorists are paying more and more of the cost of maintaining the state’s roads, while drivers of heavy trucks are paying less, according to a new state study,  though the trucks are causing far more damage to the roads; meanwhile, Idaho faces a “widening gap” between its road funding and its needs, experts told Gov. Butch Otter’s transportation funding task force Tuesday, and task force members said the most promising source to fill that gap is a gas tax increase, the very thing Otter failed to persuade lawmakers to endorse for two years running.

Trucks vs. cars on pavement damage

Consultant Patrick Balducci of Battelle Group told the governor’s transportation funding task force just now that axle weights matter, not just total weight of a truck compared to total weight of a car, when calculating impact on pavement damage. But, under questioning from committee members, he said the rule of thumb is that one fully loaded axle on a big truck is equal to the pavement damage of 10,000 passenger cars. Task force members were stunned. “It’s been measured,” Balducci told them. “For years, millions of trucks have been measured. These are engineering calculations that have been studied by the federal government beginning in the 1950s and continuing today.” When task force member Jim Riley asked what the difference might be if that figure were off by 25 percent - say, if a loaded truck axle were equal to just 7,500 passenger cars - Balducci said that would be contrary to “50 years of research on the part of the Federal Highway Administration.”

Reasons for the car-truck fee disparity…

Part of the reason for the big disparity between heavy trucks and cars in Idaho on paying their fair share for roads: The repeal of the weight-distance tax in 2001, as a result of a lawsuit. Since then, heavy trucks have paid only registration fees. Idaho’s last formally published highway cost-allocation study in 2002 didn’t fully reflect that change, consultant Patrick Balducci told the governor’s transportation funding task force today. An unpublished state highway cost allocation study in 2007 showed figures between the 2002 study and the new one, he said, which provides additional evidence of the trend toward cars paying more and trucks less.

Another factor: More construction, partly as a result of the GARVEE bonding program. When pavement or bridges are replaced in major construction projects, more of the cost of that is allocated to trucks than to cars, Balducci explained, “because of the ratio between axle weights and pavement damage.” That’s as opposed to costs for signals or general highway operations, which are attributed more equally to all types of vehicles. Also, the bonding program was focused on the interstate system, Balducci noted, which sees more heavy-truck travel. He also noted on big trucks the “data that they’re going to do much more damage than the lighter vehicles.”

New study: Idaho cars overpaying, trucks underpaying

The trend in Idaho is clear, according to a new highway cost-allocation study presented to the governor’s transportation funding task force today: “More and more overpayment on the part of automobiles and pickup trucks, and more underpayment on the part of combination trucks.” That’s what consultant Patrick Balducci of Battelle Group told the task force just now. There are a few different ways to look at the numbers. When the full picture of federal and state funding is taken into account, along with the impact of the GARVEE bonding program, the disparity looks even worse: Drivers of passenger cars are overpaying by 47 percent compared to their cost of wear and tear on the roads, drivers of pickups are overpaying by 18 percent, and drivers of combination semi-trucks are paying only 67 percent of the cost they create, a 33 percent underpayment.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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