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Rate of deterioration of bridges and pavements as affected by trucks.
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Rate of deterioration of bridges and pavements as affected by trucks.
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    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 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


    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


    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.

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