The simple answer is yes, heavy haul loads damage local roads. Heavy hauler traffic has increased significantly over the decades and the loads are heavier. Cargo was typically shipped by rail when the majority of local and even the interstate highway system was created. The infrastructure of local roads and bridges that heavy haulers travel on weren’t designed to accommodate the heavy weights of current cargo being transported.
Once a shining example of what a nation could accomplish, the road and bridge systems in the U.S. are nearing their end of life. That’s been amply demonstrated by bridge and road collapses across the nation. The type of materials with which local roads are constructed also play a role in how much damage a heavy hauler may inflict. New roads and repairs are being performed in the cheapest way possible.
Roadways and Heavy Haul Loads
Pavement is typically designed to last for 20 years. An influx of heavier farm equipment, heavy haulers, and even local passenger vehicles has narrowed that lifespan to an estimated 7 years. The financial resources for maintaining those roadways haven’t kept pace with the damage done to local roads and funds are often used ineffectively or inefficiently.
Much of the degradation to roads is due to neglect. Legislators have failed to plan for the expense associated with increased traffic and material costs, preferring to place roads low on their list of priorities. Damaged roads and bridges increase maintenance costs for vehicles, constitute a safety issue, and contribute to high insurance rates.
Extremes in weather also play a part in damage to local roads. Potholes, cracked pavement and washouts exacerbate the demise of roads and it’s compounded by heavy haulers and others that use the roadways. Climate change will intensify the problem and should act as an incentive for all legislative bodies to act on the situation.
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