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Executive Summary

This case study examines trucking across the western U.S.-Canada border and how it is influenced by truck size and weight (TS&W) regulations. Western border trucking differs from eastern border trucking in terms of the types of commodities being handled (high quantities of relatively low value, resource-based commodities), the density of truck volumes (many miles of roads with relatively low volumes of traffic), and the TS&W regulatory regimes arising from many grandfather exemptions and the resulting truck configurations. Also, the implications of a range of possible Federal TS&W policy initiatives on western border trucking are considered.

Highway Crossings on the Western Border

The western border reaches from the western end of Lake Superior to the West Coast. There are 54 highway crossings of the border. Twenty-eight involve: (1) an Interstate System (IS), National Network (NN), or National Highway System (NHS) highway; (2) a two-way commercial traffic flow of more than 12,000 trucks per year, or (3) both. The western border accounts for one-third of all trucking across the Canada-U.S. border.

Geographical Proximity of Western Canada and the United States

Truck travel times between western Canada and most of the United States west of the Ohio River and the southern section of the Mississippi River are less than travel times from western Canada to central Canada (Toronto) and east (Montreal and beyond). The proximity of western Canada to this area and its markets, the similarity in economic and industrial activities between western Canada and the north and mid-west United States, and the ease of crossborder trade have created strong trade and transportation linkages across the border.

Trade Across the Western Border

Most western border trucking is associated with local and regional trade. Economic sectors of particular importance in this trade are--agriculture (grains, livestock, seed, produce, peat moss); wood and paper (logs, lumber, shakes, newsprint, printed material); chemicals, metals, and minerals (potash, soda ash, petroleum); machines, vehicles, and farming and resource extraction equipment.

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