April 25, 2008

Being Lazy Makes Them Money

Justin Katz

There's something very Rhode Island about this proposed legislation:

A bill filed recently in the state Senate would forbid all vehicles with more than two axles from driving over the Sakonnet River (Route 24) and Pawtucket (I-95) bridges. While the 22-ton limit on both bridges would remain in effect, Senate bill S 2891 would ban a number of vehicles that are presently able to use the bridges. ...

The measure was introduced by Senators Dennis Algiere (Westerly, Charlestown) and James Doyle (Pawtucket). Sen. Algiere said he did so at the request of the governor's office and the state Department of Transportation (DOT), and referred any questions to the DOT.

Robert Rocchio, managing engineer of the DOT's traffic design section, cited two reasons for the proposal.

First, "to preserve the integrity of the two bridges for as long as possible."

And second, "to provide means to pay for enforcement" of the bridge restrictions. The bill proposes fines of $3,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for second offense which Mr. Rocchio said could help cover the $40,000 monthly cost of paying State Police to enforce the limits at overtime pay rates.

Mr Rocchio doesn't mention that all the detouring will increase gas sales, which will also increase gas-tax revenue. Cynicism can go too far, but there must be some reason that the lawmakers involved (elected and otherwise) aren't trying cost-saving measures first — fewer patrols, with random stops and higher penalties for violating the weight limit.

The rickety bridge doesn't care, after all, how many axles are on a particular vehicle. If raising money is the primary objective, then the folks behind the legislation should say so. And then the rest of us should respond, first, by explaining the utter lunacy of piling burdens on an ailing economy and, second, by voting the bums out.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I'm just leaning back and waiting for a bridge in this state to fail and kill a whole bunch of people and desperately hoping that nobody I know is a victim. I'd hate to have to count on AG Spider-Boy for justice.

Posted by: Greg at April 25, 2008 10:24 AM

Sometime back in a Providence Journal story reference was made to RIDOT not performing necessary maintenance on the Sakonnet River bridge and early 90s due to budget cutbacks precipitated by the RISDIC crisis.

so now the bridge will have to be replaced at between 100 and $200 million; not to mention the economic costs incurred with things such as detouring trucks until the new bridge is available.

Of course RISDIC was but one example of the culture of corruption at the Democrat general assembly; and the Sakonnet River bridge is emblematic of the high indirect costs that the citizens of the state bear due to that corruption.

One can only imagine what the continuing bill will be in the coming years (and decades) emanating from the "Operation Dollar Bill" corruption at the Democrat general assembly.

Posted by: Tom W at April 25, 2008 12:27 PM

This is a really bad idea.

Posted by: Monique at April 25, 2008 1:27 PM

"The rickety bridge doesn't care, after all, how many axles are on a particular vehicle."

Actually, the bridge does care. The more axles, the more weight and most likely the more weight per axle. The fatigue damage each vehicle axle causes is related to a constant times the weight on axle raised to the third or fourth power, depending on the curve fit used. A five axle 40 ton truck - 8 tons per axle - causes 500 times more damage than a two axle 2 ton car - 1 ton per axle.

Of course, if there had been a budget for - and tradition of - maintenance, this might not be so critical.

Posted by: chuckR at April 25, 2008 1:29 PM

That 500 times the fatigue damage? Thats per axle, of which a big semi has 3 more, so per vehicle, its 1250 times the damage compared to a two ton car.

You can do the same calc for a 22 ton three axle truck.

Posted by: chuckR at April 25, 2008 1:35 PM

How about calculating the axle weight damage by the new 42 foot long; 2-axle; 23 ton $1.4 million high tech RIEMA mobile command center as it plies the states highways, byways and bridges with only two people allowed (driver and spotter) in it (everyone else must follow behind it in separate vehicles).

This was purchased in 2005 so state could have an on-site central command center, during natural or man-made disasters, to provide the states 39 cities and towns a way to communicate with first responders and resources.

Now if only the states bridges will hold up!

Posted by: Ken at April 25, 2008 11:40 PM


I'm not understanding your explanation of the formula. Are you saying that a 20-ton truck with three axes causes more damage than a 20-ton truck with two axes?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 27, 2008 12:58 PM
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