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Truck Usage in Western Border States

The importance of trade in local and regional commodities is reflected in truck usage in the five western border States. One-third of the 287,100 registered trucks in the five States are used for transporting farm products. An additional one-third are used for transporting building materials, processed foods, live animals, lumber and fabricated wood products, and transportation equipment.

Most trucks in the western border States operate within their base States (9 of 10 trucks drive less than 25 percent of their mileage outside of their home State) and within 200 miles of home (9 of 10 truck miles). About 1 of 20 trucks drive 75-100 percent of their mileage outside the base State. About 1 of 20 trucks operate in the 200-500 mile range, and another 1 of 20 with trip lengths of greater than 500 miles.

Most trucking in the western border States occurs at weight levels that are much lower than the governing GVW limits. Seven of 10 truck movements occur at an average GVW of up to 40,000 pounds, which generally requires no more than three-axles. Eighty-five percent occurs at average weight of up to 60,000 pounds, which requires no more than four-axles. About 97.5 percent occurs at average weight levels of up to 80,000 pounds, which requires no more than five-axles. About 1.5 percent occurs at an average GVW of up to 100,000 pounds, which requires six or seven-axles. About 1.0 percent occurs at weights up to 130,000 pounds, which requires eight or nine-axles.

Trucking Across the Western Border

The western border accounted for about 5,100 two-way truck movements per day in 1994. Ninety-five percent of all truck movements across the western border occur on highways where the governing GVW limit is either 105,500 pounds as in Washington, Idaho, and North Dakota or 131,060 pounds in Montana. Montana also has a 137,800-pound weight limit for the section of I-15 from the Canadian border to Shelby, Montana. This is allowed under a special provision in the ISTEA to allow vehicles meeting the RTAC limits access to an intermodal facility at Shelby. Only 5 percent of these movements directly cross the Minnesota-Manitoba border, which is controlled by the 80,000-pound limit.

Ten times as much truck traffic moves across the western border as moves between western and eastern Canada via the Trans-Canada Highway (5,100 per day versus 500 per day). Some western border movements travel through the United States between western and eastern Canada.

Trucking across the western border is growing. There has been a 25 percent increase in two years from 1992 to 1994. One major crossing has experienced a ten-fold increase in 20 years. Many factors have affected this. Among them are economic growth, deregulation of trucking, increased use of prorationing taxation systems, freeing-up of agricultural product trading, branchline abandonment on both sides of the border, increased fertilizer use, the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, the NAFTA, and most recently the low value of the Canadian dollar.

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