Truck drivers being ticketed for running overweight in Erie, Colo. say that the town has set up a truck trap that’s costing them thousands of dollars.
Erie, with a population of around 20,000, is just east of Boulder on the west side of Interstate 25. A 13-ton weight limit has caused quite a stir among truckers, some of whom say the weight limit signs are not posted prominently enough to provide drivers with enough warning before entering the town.
Trucker Jeff Winowiecki, who was ticketed and fined $1,030 for being overweight on Highway 52, said by the time he saw the weight limit sign, it was too late to turn around.
“It was rush hour. Cars coming at me. Cars coming behind me. There’s nothing I can do. I’m just going to create a wreck if I try to do anything,” Winowiecki told kdvr.com.
Driver Tim Temple said he was also caught off guard by the sign.
“It`s a scam,” he said. “You can’t turn around nowhere. “You can’t back up nowhere. All you can do is go straight through town.”
Craig Engle was also ticketed for running overweight. He, Temple and Winowiecki challenged the citations in court late last year and lost. Since then, the fine has increased 157 percent to $2,650.
“You’ve heard of speed traps. This is a truck trap,” Craig Engle said following his loss in court.
Engle is hoping that other truckers will join him in his boycott against the town of Erie.
“I will not buy fuel here. I won’t buy my tires. Anything here. They got my thousand bucks, but they’re not going to get any of my business anymore,” he said.
Erie Police Chief Kim Stewart told Hard Working Trucks that truckers have been using the town as a short-cut and that they’ve had fair warning about the weight limit.
“We’re surrounded by Highway 52, Highway 287, Highway 7 and I-25. So truckers, with or without their loads, come through the town and they’re not doing business here. It’s sort of a short-cut to other places,” Stewart said.
Residents have been complaining, Stewart said, about tractor trailers speeding through town, losing material from uncovered loads and deteriorating their roads. She said there’s only one officer assigned to overweight trucks and that he’s written only 28 tickets since 2015.
“The heavier loads that are getting to 88,000 or 90,000 (pounds), he is ticketing those because they’re just tearing up our streets. It’s not these little cars that are doing that. It’s the large trucks. I’m not speaking ill of truckers. They’ve got a job to do like everybody else.”
Weight limit signs are properly posted, Stewart says.
“Let’s say you come into town and you see the 13-ton weight limit sign. The expectation is to take the first right and head back out which will put you back on Highway 287,” she said. “It will put you on a major road that can handle the weight in a very short amount of time.”
Scales are not used to weigh the trucks.
“We have a person that’s been trained on the trucks, and the identification of the truck, the sizes and the weights,” Stewart said. “He’s actually become quite an expert on that. Whether he’s an expert approved by the courts, I wouldn’t say that. He has that knowledge. And so he will see these trucks and if they’re loaded he can pretty much tell you what they weigh. He knows that a lot of the bases of the trucks are 17,000 unloaded. So, even if they’re loaded, they’re over the weight limit.”
Trucks that have business in Erie are not ticketed.
“We have a lot of the regional landfills here. The trucks are coming, they’re dropping off their load and taking the most direct route and they’re exiting the most direct route. No problem,” Stewart explained. “And truly, somebody that’s bringing a load to build a new house, or something like that, and they’re overweight, we never say a word.”
Last month, the city raised the overweight fine from $1,030 to the state maximum of $2,650. Concerns for public safety were among the reasons for the increase.
“One of the main roads that some of the truckers are on is called east county line. It divides walt county and Boulder County, we have a grade school and a middle school right off that road,” Stewart explained. “It’s just dangerous and it’s always about public safety.”
Stewart said her office has contacted trucking companies to warn them about the weight restriction.
“We’ve called the businesses that have truckers coming through and we’ve explained that,” she said. “Now some of the truckers have told the sergeant that they’re company still wants them to come through Erie and that they consider the ticket the cost of doing business. Whether that’s true or not, that’s what he’s been told.”
Stewart said the city “is not trying to ruin anyone’s livelihood” and that the officer issuing tickets for overweight trucks gives far more warnings to drivers than citations.
“If they have business in town come on in and do your business. We’re just trying not to be a throughway. There’s no truck trap,” she said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from an earlier version published on Feb. 22.