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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 An unpublished state highway cost allocation study in 2007 showed figures between the 2002 study and the new one, he said, which provides additional evidence of the trend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.”

EOB: Idaho cars overpaying, trucks underpaying for roads

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. More here/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise

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.

Eagle breaks truck windshield…

Good morning, Netizens…


Matthew Roberto Gonzalez of Opa Locka, Fla., was driving on U.S. Interstate 80 in northeast Nevada near Wells, about 60 miles west of the Utah line, when the eagle came crashing into the cab of his truck through the windshield.

“I heard a loud thump like a brick or something coming through the glass,” said Daryl Young of Miami, the co-driver who was dozing in the sleeper berth when it happened. “I woke up, and the windshield was all over me. Next thing I know there was a big bird lying on the floor.”

Joe Doucette, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said it appears the eagle hit the windshield head first.

“One side of the head is swollen, but there does not appear to be any permanent damage,” he said.

“The guys in the truck immediately bailed out because it was one ticked off bird. She was pretty feisty,” Doucette said. “Even the officer who responded didn’t want to go in there so we had one of our wildlife biologists do it.”

The eagle was recovering at the Northeast Nevada Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Spring Creek, and Doucette said the goal was to release it back into the wild.

Jeffrey Spires, owner of Spires Trucking of South Florida in Miramar, Fla., said he thought his drivers were kidding when they called to report the damage.

“Never in trucking history,” he said.

Nope. I never heard of an eagle flying through a windshield. Deer, antelope, even a herd of elk tearing up a brand-new truck, but never an eagle coming through the windshield. However, an injured eagle can be a substantial problem, because you still have to contend with their raptor’s claws and a razor-sharp beak.


Dave