Date of Award

Winter 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Kumares C. Sinha

Committee Chair

Kumares C. Sinha

Committee Member 1

Samuel Labi

Committee Member 2

Fred L. Mannering

Committee Member 3

Jon D. Fricker


Overweight vehicles exceed the federal and/or state statutory limits for either the gross vehicle weight (GVW) or the weight of individual axles or axle groups. National and state limits on vehicle weights were established to preserve the highway infrastructure. Past research has shown that overweight operations, while causing significant damage to roads and bridges, can enhance the trucking industry productivity, and thus yield economic benefits both regionally and nationally. In the United States, individual states administer oversize and overweight vehicle permit programs to regulate and collect revenues from overweight operations. Differences in the truck size and weight limits and overweight permit programs across the states inhibit seamless and efficient truck travel across the country. Agencies responsible for maintaining the highway infrastructure realize that the cost of consumption of the infrastructure far exceeds the collected revenues. The current study examines four options to improve overweight vehicle permitting systems: multiobjective optimization of traditional mechanisms, incentives for infrastructure-friendly vehicles, application of an auction-based quota for overweight vehicle operations, and opportunities for harmonizing the regulations covering overweight vehicle operations that differ across the states. The first three options are qualitatively and quantitatively applied to a case study involving Indiana's newly-established overweight commodity permits for vehicles carrying metal (up to 120,000 lbs), and agricultural (up to 97,000 lbs) goods. An incremental approach to harmonization of truck size and weight regulations and overweight vehicle permitting systems is qualitatively described, including available tools and data needs to promote harmonization. The four options are not mutually exclusive; collectively, they provide opportunities for transportation decision makers to improve overweight vehicle permitting. Each option contributes to the ongoing discussion about how to address the issue of uncompensated consumption of highway infrastructure assets attributable to overweight vehicles. The multiobjective optimization formulated herein better reflects actual decisions made by both the agency and carriers than limited previous quantitative research. The quantification of willingness to pay for investment informs state agencies about the extent to which incentives for infrastructure-friendly vehicles can be adopted. The quota framework contained herein is an extension of strategies used previously to mitigate demand into a tool for controlling the amount of allowable infrastructure damage while collecting necessary revenues to protect infrastructure from undue damage. Finally, the harmonization of overweight vehicle permitting programs can streamline interstate overweight operations for both state agencies and carriers. The combination of several options can result in greater improvements to both the trucking industry's productivity and the preservation of highway infrastructure than any option alone.