Rate of Deterioration of Bridges and Pavements as Affected by Trucks

The largest loads on public road systems disproportionately inflict the greatest damage to highway infrastructure. Simultaneously facing both increasing demand for overweight loads and deteriorating pavement and bridges, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) commissioned this study to investigate the impact of heavy vehicle traffic on pavements and bridges in South Carolina and to develop policy recommendations based on technical analysis and the modern institutional environment in South Carolina. To conduct this study, Clemson University estimated pavement and bridge deterioration, investigated the adequacy of standard practices in state agencies for dealing with this deterioration, and characterized how stakeholders in South Carolina’s trucking industry perceive those practices. The pavement models revealed that overweight trucks reduce pavement service life significantly beyond design standards. Results from the bridge model indicated that bridge damage increased exponentially with an increase in truck weight. Recovering damage for South Carolina’s highways will require a flat fee of $65 per trip, but traditional flat fees for overweight loads fail to charge fairly according to the differing level of damage from distributions of vehicle weights, axle configurations, and trip length. Several alternative fee structures are presented, such as an axle-based system in which permits will cost between $24 and $175 per trip according to load, vehicle configuration, and trip distance. Stakeholder interviews indicated differing opinions on the objectives of user fees for permitting overweight loads; however, many stakeholders indicated a need to address illegal loads and establish consistent fee structures across the Southeastern mega-region. SCDOT and trucking industry representatives should work together in an ongoing focus group to develop common understanding of issues, consensus around objectives, and provisions for fairness that will address industry concerns.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 353p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01526279
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-SC-13-05
  • Contract Numbers: SPR 694
  • Created Date: May 8 2014 4:47PM