More truck traffic entering Oregon on 97
KLAMATH FALLS — Southern Oregon has a sign of economic recovery: Lots more big rigs at the weigh scales on Highway 97 near the border with California.
The number of trucks going through the scales just north of the California border took a sharp jump in 2014, rising to 238,000, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reported. That was a 25 percent increase from the year before.
"When you see a downturn in the economy, trucking is one of the first things that gets hit," said Phil Grant of the Oregon Department of Transportation. "They don't have to re-stock the store as often, or supplies don't get re-stocked as often, therefore you're not moving it via truck. Trucking is the backbone of the U.S. economy."
Grant and his seven employees staff the two Highway 97 scales just north of the Oregon Institute of Technology.
Right now, scale workers say, they're busy with bees being trucked north to pollinate fruit crops in Oregon and Washington.
U.S. 97 is a major north-south artery in Oregon, on the dry east side of the Cascades.
For truckers coming north from California, it can be a fuel-saving way around the mountains that Interstate 5 goes through to the west, said Bob Russell, vice president of government affairs for the Oregon Trucking Associations.
Many of those truckers, if their insurance policies allow them to use two-lane highways, eventually head back to I-5 by taking Oregon 58 through the Willamette Pass.
State officials say the weigh stations serve two purposes: Keeping overweight trucks from damaging the highways and making sure drivers comply with state rules such as those requiring adequate rest.
If everything is in good order, weighing and checking trucks takes about 60 seconds, Grant said.