November 14, 2005
By: Janet L. Kaminski, Associate Legislative Attorney
You asked for information on the operation of weigh stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Connecticut has six fixed weigh stations (one each in Greenwich, Danbury, Union, Middletown, and two in Waterford) that are staffed with personnel from the departments of public safety and motor vehicle. Since 1998, state law has required minimum staffing of all fixed inspection facilities and portable scales used by mobile inspection teams.
State law requires the transportation commissioner, in consultation with the departments of public safety and motor vehicles, to establish a program to implement regularly scheduled and enforced hours of operation for weigh stations. The law also requires the public safety and motor vehicles commissioners to change weigh station work shifts daily so as to have an unpredictable weighing and inspection schedule.
While Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have active commercial vehicle safety operations, none operate weigh stations continuously. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania use an unpublicized, intermittent schedule to maximize enforcement opportunities. Ohio weigh stations follow a regular schedule that truckers know and can, therefore, plan their travel around.
Connecticut law requires certain truck weight enforcement activity and staffing levels (CGS § 14-270c). These requirements are:
1. I-95 in Greenwich—Eight work shifts in each seven-day period from Sunday through Saturday. Two shifts can be worked consecutively on not more than three days.
2. I-84 in Danbury—Three work shifts in each seven-day period from Sunday through Saturday. Whenever possible, the public safety commissioner must coordinate coverage between Danbury and Greenwich to assure concurrent coverage.
3. I-84 in Union—Between five and eight work shifts in each seven-day period from Sunday through Saturday with hours of operation coordinated by the motor vehicle commissioner.
4. Portable Scale Operations—10 shifts in each seven-day period from Sunday through Saturday. They must be staggered throughout four geographical areas established by the public safety commissioner and concentrated in areas that have fewer hours of operation for the fixed weighing areas.
5. The public safety commissioner may assign any remaining personnel in the department's traffic unit to the fixed inspection locations adjacent to I-95 in Waterford and on I-91 northbound in Middletown or to the portable scale operations.
6. The public safety and motor vehicle commissioners must adjust all work shifts on a daily basis to effectuate an unpredictable weighing and inspection schedule.
7. The public safety commissioner must assign personnel from the traffic unit to work between nine and 12 shifts in each seven-day period from Sunday through Saturday to patrol and enforce the laws relating to safe vehicle movement on the highways.
8. The public safety commissioner may reassign traffic unit officers as he sees fit to ensure public safety.
State police may temporarily close any weigh station that develops a traffic backlog onto the highway, thus causing a traffic hazard (CGS § 14-270d).
The transportation commissioner, in consultation with the departments of public safety and motor vehicles, must have a program to implement regularly scheduled and enforced hours of operation for weigh stations (CGS § 14-2703).
Connecticut uses staff from the departments of public safety and motor vehicles to operate Connecticut's six fixed weigh stations. Both departments also operate mobile patrols using portable scales. The transportation department has also installed high-speed weigh-in –motion scales in two of the westbound lanes of I-84 in Union. When in operation, these scales electronically weigh trucks moving at highway speed. Vehicles that are within the required weight limit can bypass the fixed weigh station.
Massachusetts law requires motor vehicle drivers to submit to a vehicle weighing at the request of any authorized police officer (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. Ch. 90, § 19A). Counting positions on both sides of highways, Massachusetts operates 12 weigh station locations. Some of these use solely portable scales, while others use semi-portable scales. They do not have fixed stations in the way that Connecticut does. The weighing enforcement activity does not happen continuously, but is intermittent and random. The Massachusetts State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement unit supervisor establishes the operation schedule for the locations. The schedule varies and is not made public so that the police can maximize enforcement efforts, according to Trooper John Maloney.
Ohio law authorizes police officers to require motor vehicle drivers to stop and submit to a weighing at a fixed location or by a portable scale (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4513.33). Ohio maintains 16 fixed weigh stations segregated into 10 districts. The commercial trucking enforcement officer in each district sets the hours of operation for his district's weigh stations. Each station operates two regular shifts a day. The shifts may vary but are generally from 7:00 a.m. to midnight, 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or midnight to 8:00 a.m., according to Sergeant Mark A. Hensley, Ohio Department of Public Safety. Sergeant Hensley noted that truckers are very familiar with the weigh station hours because they follow a set schedule. In theory, then, a trucker could arrange his travels so as to avoid an open weigh station.
Pennsylvania law requires the Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police to operate scales and other equipment on freeways to detect violations of legal weight limits for motor vehicles (Pa. State. Ann. Tit. 75, § 4981). Most of the state's enforcement activity involves the use of portable scales. These are used intermittently at 28 locations (e.g., rest stops). The Pennsylvania State Police operates one fixed weigh station on I-80. Both the portable and fixed locations are run on an irregular or intermittent schedule that is not made public, according to Kevin Stewart, Commercial Vehicle Safety section, Pennsylvania State Police.