DOTD Using High Technology to Expedite Truck Movement and Improve Safety
Friday, January 03, 2003 at 12:00:00 AM

             BATON ROUGE  -  The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is using two components of the Intelligence Transportation System (ITS) to improve and expedite the safe movement of motor vehicles, both private and commercial, on Louisiana’s highways, according to DOTD Secretary Kam  Movassaghi.

            “We are currently using and installing Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) and PrePass Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI) systems in the vicinity of traditional weigh scales at six interstate locations in the state,” Movassaghi said.

            The WIM and AVI systems will allow commercial vehicles to bypass the current system of static weigh stations, while improving safety and decreasing time and cost to the trucking industry, he said.

             As trucks travel at highway speeds over a WIM scale, located beneath the road surface in the right-hand lane of the WIM system, a computer will calculate the weight and height, and number of axles on each truck.  This process is accomplished in milliseconds.  If the truck is in its legal and permitted limits, a sign will flash signaling the motor carrier that it is okay to proceed without stopping at the scales.  If a truck fails to pass the predetermined restrictions, a variable message sign will flash guiding the trucker to a static weigh station scale where DOTD enforcement officers will perform a detailed inspection of the truck. 

Currently, each time a truck pulls off the roadway into a weigh-in-station, industry officials estimate the delay costs $6 to $7 per stop, according to Movassaghi.  This system not only saves truckers time and money, but allows enforcement personnel to concentrate their efforts on carriers with problems, he added.   

            To further assist the motor carrier industry and save the state money, each location also will be fitted with AVI.  Similar to a toll tag, AVI involves a transponder mounted on the windshield of a truck and reader mounted on a pole on the side of the road.  Utilizing a radio beam, the reader identifies the vehicle via a signal sent from the transponder and a computer located in the weigh station verifies the vehicle’s credentials.   Except for a small percentage of random pull-ins, all PrePass member trucks will be able to bypass Interstate weigh stations when credentials and weight are legal.

The program was implemented to cut costs for both the state and the industry; improve productivity and compliance; and reduce numbers of illegal/unsafe carrier, vehicle and driver operations.

            The six locations where WIM and AVI are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2003 are:

1. Greenwood on I-20 at the Texas state line.

2. I-20 at Delta    

3. I-10 at Toomey

4. I-10 at Breaux Bridge

5. I-10 at LaPlace

6. I-12 at Baptist near Hammond  (PrePass and WIM  operational since Sept., 2001)  

            Movassaghi added that discussions with Mississippi DOT have begun concerning installing PrePass at the joint port facility at Kentwood near the Mississippi state line on I-55.  Arkansas DOT officials and DOTD have also discussed operating a joint port facility on I-49 north of Shreveport when it is completed.

The AVI Prepass system is paid for by the trucking industry and does not cost the tax payer.   Each WIM station cost approximately $1.5 million to construct and all sites will be operational by the end of 2003.