‘Heavy’ Traffic Hits Home

The Southeast Region of the North Dakota Highway Patrol is keeping up with troopers in the oil patch when comparing overloaded truck citations issued this year compared to last year.

The agency said it had handed out more overload fees from January, 2012, through September than it had in all of 2011. While many of those citations were written in the bustling Bakken Oil Field, the rest of the state as seen some “heavy traffic” as well.

“It appears we are right on track to match or just exceed our 2011 overload total,” said Captain Bryan Niewind, regional commander of the Southeast Region, East Division.

The Southeast Region includes the counties of Richland, Cass, Traill, Steele, Barnes, Ransom, Sargent, Dickey, Lamoure, Stutsman, Griggs, Foster, Eddy, Logan and McIntosh. As of Sept. 24, the region has issued 180 overloads.

Four of those counties, Barnes, Stutsman, Dickey and LaMoure are also patrolled by truck regulatory officer Tim Gillespie. Gillespie, who was deputized by the sheriff’s departments in all four counties, said lately he has seen an increase in overloaded trucks in the past four weeks as harvest season began.

“It was slow this summer but now its starting to pick up,” Gillespie said. “For the most part, farmers are trying to keep it down as much as they can but there’s a few people that just don’t care. They’re starting to relax and now my overloads are coming pretty regular again.”

Gillespie began enforcing weight restrictions on March 28, 2011. He said the number of enforcements for the first nine months of 2012 is on par with the nine months he worked in 2011.

“We’re getting more truck traffic in this area just like all areas of the state,” he said.

“It’s not the bulk of my truck stops, but a few of them are oil-related.”
Niewind said there are currently two NDHP motor carrier troopers stationed in the Southeast Region, with the majority of their daily duties focused on size and weight enforcement.

“In addition, our traffic troopers are trained to recognize overloaded vehicles and to take enforcement action when they encounter one,” Niewind said.

Statewide, the NDHP had issued 1,295 overload violations by Sept. 18, which racked up $2.1 million in fees. In 2011 the agency brought in $1.9 million in overload fees. Overloaded trucks are a concern due to the damage they cause to the roads they travel on. According to the Barnes County Highway Department, it can cost up to $200,000 to fix one mile of road.