In 1986, the Kentucky General Assembly established the Extended Weight Coal and Coal By-Products Haul Road System. This system includes approximately 3,200 miles of the most significant coal-haul roads in the state and permits coal trucks to carry much larger payloads than trucks with other commodities. In many ways, the extended-weight system has been very successful. Coal-transportation productivity has been substantially increased, and Kentucky coal continues to remain competitive in the marketplace. At the same time, infrastructure costs have risen substantially--to considerably greater levels than the increase in revenue produced by the requisite coal decal fees--and the extended-weight system has proven to be difficult to manage. Moreover, there is a fundamental inequity in the preferential treatment that has been extended to coal haulers and to the specific regions in which they travel.

In pursuit of its goal of providing the best possible transportation system to all citizens of the Commonwealth and its recognition of the key influence of transportation productivity on the national and international competitiveness of Kentucky industry, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently initiated an evaluation of the extended-weight system and an identification of ways in which the extended-weight system might evolve into a comprehensive trucking network that would effectively serve the entire Commonwealth. Key considerations in forming future alternatives included the necessity for 1) limited mileage in order to contain costs; 2) permanency to promote efficient management; 3) more lenient weight limits for commodities other than coal; 4) statewide service; and 5) a connected, continuous trucking network.

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The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views policies of the University of Kentucky or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, regulation. The inclusion of manufacturer names and trade names is for identification purposes and is not to be .considered an endorsement.