OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The first of nine new weigh and inspection stations for heavy trucks entering Oklahoma has opened for business, and state officials are pushing ahead with a nearly $100 million project to build the rest, the head of Oklahoma's Department of Transportation said Monday.
The first station along Interstate 35 near the Kansas border opened April 27, and a second station along Interstate 40 in far western Oklahoma is scheduled to open in a few months, ODOT Director Gary Ridley said.
Eight permanent, manned stations are being constructed at key ports of entry into Oklahoma, along with a ninth unmanned "virtual" station that will allow regulators to use special equipment to weigh and check trucks as they move along the highway, Ridley said. Stations will be built at along interstates 35, 40 and 44, U.S. Highway 69 in Bryan County, and U.S. Highway 271 in Choctaw County. The remote station will be along U.S. Highway 412 in Delaware County.
"The whole idea is to allow the trucks free flow of movement without interruption, providing they are hauling a legal load or they have a permit to haul the load," Ridley told members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission during its regular meeting Monday.
Each station will cost about $11 million to build, with most of the money coming from a 1-cent assessment on the wholesale purchase of gasoline and diesel fuel. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will be responsible for building the weigh station along Interstate 44 in far northeast Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's current weigh stations were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s and are some of the most outdated in the country, Ridley said.
"They're about as old as any of them can be, because they were built around when the interstates were built," he said. "They are antiquated. There's no restroom facilities. We've had operators that have operated them standing in water because of heavy rains and problems with them."
The Oklahoma Trucking Association supports the construction because it ensures that the trucks operating on Oklahoma roads are not overweight and have all the proper permits, said Dan Case, the association's executive director.
"It will be a better situation for those of us who do things correctly," Case said. "People who cheat, they probably aren't properly permitted. They're overweight. They're getting by with things they shouldn't be able to."
The weigh stations will be manned by employees of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Department of Public Safety.
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