WEST TEXAS (KWES) - Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill last year that has been in effect for the past few months. The bill allowed permits for overweight trucks increased for maximum truck weights around a 30-mile radius around the Port of Houston area. The legislation was a fight put up by exporters in the Houston area that have more than tens of billions of dollars of production.
Companies were saying that with the former weight limits it was preventing them from fully loading their containers.
As for the Permian Basin, most of our trucks are energy industry related and are coming from sand mines and transporting water.
The commute between the Odessa District, which covers Midland, Ector and surrounding counties to where the sand mines are, can be up to hundreds of miles.
"Those trucks would be enormously heavy. If they are hauling three boxes of sand, which is what I have heard you are looking at a 108,000 pounds vehicle or 28,000 pounds over the weight limit, that does a lot of damage to roadways and highways," said James Beauchamp, President of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance (MOTRAN).
An example of damage that overweight trucks have caused can be seen on FM 1788. Only a few months ago, the road was paved using money from the Energy Sector Program, costing $17.9 million.
Safety is also a concern.
MOTRAN says in 2016 there were 836 crashes involving semi-trucks and 41 were fatal.
"Again, we talk about how long it takes for a normal truck to stop verses a car. If you have a 108,000-pound commercial vehicle operating, that is going to be a tremendous, tremendous safety issue out there on the roads," said Beauchamp.
Beauchamp added that safety and damage to roads is something legislators need to consider.
"The weight of those trucks, those overweight trucks that are operating without a permit, without paying additional money to help deal with the maintenance issues they will cause, are going to do exponentially more damage than more trucks just operating at that weight," said Beauchamp.