Noel Oman reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning
Smart City Memphis
THEY LEAVE THEIR MARK: Interstate truck traffic.
on opening of bids on state highway construction projects
, particularly a project to rebuild — again — a stretch of interstate near West Memphis
that is regularly pounded to rubble by interstate truck traffic.
Oman ran down some $150 million worth of projects in the area in recent years, all linked to truck traffic, which accounts for at least half the traffic on the latest route to be rebuilt on Interstate 40.
Do not be misled by that "half" reference into thinking that cars and trucks are about equally responsible for the road work. The damage caused by truck rigs weighing 80,000 pounds is so much more than that caused by passenger cars that, as this Ohio State University study
boiled it down:
When discussing road wear, cars don't matter: road damage is effectively caused by trucks
The relevant example is I-630 in Little Rock, which carries no truck traffic to speak of. Regular rebuilding hasn't been necessary. Widening for more cars is a separate issue.
Happily for the interstate trucking industry, Arkansas taxpayers gladly raised their sales tax on everything but gasoline and groceries to float a massive bond issue in 2013 to rebuild the Interstate system for them. In 10 years, if not before, they'll be asked to raises taxes AGAIN to rebuild more interstates that truckers have destroyed AGAIN. Truckers enjoy a variety of other tax breaks in Arkansas so that we may be "competitive" with other states.
This special treatment provides Arkansas little benefit from many truckers, particularly those rumbling over the northeast corner of the state between Missouri and Tennessee. Some of them don't even stop for a cup of coffee, but their rigs leave their marks.
We once had a highway director, Henry Gray, who tried to make the truckers pay their fair share. That was long, long ago.