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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unintended Impacts of Increased Truck Loads on Pavement Supply-Chain Emissions


In recent years, the reduction of freight truck trips has been a common policy goal. To this end, policies aimed at influencing load consolidation, load factors and increasing maximum truck weight limits have been suggested and implemented, resulting in higher gross vehicle weights. The purpose of such policies has generally been to mitigate congestion and environmental impacts. However, trucks cause most of the damage incurred by pavements. The supply chain associated with pavement maintenance and construction releases significant air emissions, raising the question of whether increased vehicle weights may cause unintended environmental consequences. This paper presents scenarios with estimated emissions resulting from load consolidation and changes in load factors. These scenarios reveal several points having to do with the tradeoff between tailpipe versus pavement supply‐chain emissions. In some cases, unintended emissions from the pavement supply‐chain are found to be significant. Emissions associated with pavement construction are also found to increase as a result of pavement design specifications that account for heavier trucks.

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