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March 2, 2016 10:40 AM, EST
Toledo Police Revive Program to Crack Down on Truck Weight Limits
Toledo Police Department

Toledo, Ohio police will resume enforcing truck weight limits later this month after a seven-year, budget-related hiatus, the department announced March 1.

The city has spent $119,927 to buy 25 portable scales, which are placed beneath trucks’ wheels if there is suspicion of exceeding either vehicular or posted weight limits, and it is hiring a traffic aide to handle them, a police spokesman said.

“Having overweight trucks running on our roads creates problems as far as the infrastructure goes,” Lt. Joe Heffernan said, adding that overloaded vehicles also are hazardous for motorists.

Toledo had a weight-enforcement unit until 2009, when officer Marty French, trained in motor-carrier enforcement, retired.

At that time, Heffernan said, the department’s portable scales were obsolete, and the city was in cost-cutting mode, so officials dropped the program.

Since then, he said, TPD occasionally has asked for help from the Ohio Highway Patrol — particularly with heavy trucks detouring improperly around the Anthony Wayne Bridge during its recent overhaul — but the service “was not to the level we wanted.”

The traffic aide, whose pay will be between $27,674 and $36,899 depending on experience, will be teamed with either of two patrol officers who are newly trained in truck enforcement, the lieutenant said.

Along with looking for trucks that don’t belong on weight-restricted streets, he said, the officers will look for “probable cause” signs that trucks are too heavy even for the standard 80,000-pound limit that applies on most of Toledo’s arterial streets.

Such evidence includes compressed tires, sagging springs, and engines that seem to be working too hard for the vehicle’s size, the lieutenant said.

The department did not announce any specific streets. Heffernan said initial efforts will focus on areas where the city has received complaints about heavy trucks.

Major Toledo streets that have weight limits lower than 80,000 pounds include some posted for just 6,000 pounds that might otherwise be truck shortcuts or alternate routes for freeways.

Notable streets with a 6,000-pound limit include Manhattan Boulevard between Lagrange Street and Stickney Avenue; Collingwood Boulevard between Monroe and Cherry streets; Central Avenue between Cherry and Stickney; Glendale Avenue between Byrne and Reynolds roads, and all of Heatherdowns Boulevard and Consaul and Wheeling streets in Toledo.

Toledo also has 30,000-pound limits north of Manhattan on Suder Avenue and Summit Street to discourage rigs from using those as Interstate 75 alternatives.

Toledo allows trucks weighing up to 154,000 pounds — so-called “Michigan trains” — on selected routes in or near major industrial areas such as the Port of Toledo. But those trucks still must comply with axle-weight limits and carry special heavyweight permits.

Overweight citations require court appearances and can result in four-figure fines, Heffernan said. However, truckers can be tempted to run heavy if doing so saves them an extra trip, and they think no one is watching.

“Most times, truck drivers know what they’re doing. They’re playing the odds,” the lieutenant said. “But it’s tearing up the town.”

Police representatives have made verbal contact with local trucking companies to warn them about the crackdown, the  spokesman noted.

“Our goal is not to issue tickets,” he said. “Our goal is to have trucks running at the correct weight.”