Hope Kirwan

Wisconsin Public Radio

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation opened a new safety and weight enforcement station off Interstate 90 near Sparta on Friday.

The $11 million facility will allow officials to weigh trucks while they're in motion, identifying vehicles that need further inspection without delaying those operating under the weight limit.

Every day, about 2,800 commercial trucks pass the new safety and weight enforcement facility or SWEF near Sparta.

DOT Secretary Dave Ross said the upgraded facility is part of a statewide effort to crackdown on overweight commercial trucks.

"The trucks can do a tremendous amount of damage to our roads, therefore requiring even a greater investment into our infrastructure throughout the state," Ross said. "This fits into keeping road costs and road rebuilding costs down."

A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor previously told WPR that one fully loaded semitrailer weighing 80,000 pounds does the same amount of damage to the road as 9,600 cars.

But Ross recognized the DOT has had issues keeping weigh stations fully-staffed.

"That has been a concern throughout the state, is that we have more hours of inspection and that we have the proper levels of staffing at our SWEFs," Ross said. "One thing that has held us back is that we just haven’t been graduating enough troopers and inspectors."

Ross said the State Patrol is working to increase staff, with 12 new inspectors graduating last spring and several more in the current training class.

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