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Dear Magnificent Mileage Maven: The information you recently provided about traffic on Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Memphis is quite interesting. I tabulated the data in a spreadsheet. While the average truck traffic for the three locations increased, the average car traffic decreased. Why? Is it because motorists take other routes to avoid being on the highway with all those trucks? What does the state do to account for this greatly increased truck traffic? Do fuel taxes keep up with the increased wear and tear on the interstates? -- Carl

Dear Carl: You made a spreadsheet? You must be retired. Please take up golf. If we have to suffer, you should, too.

Let's review some of that data.

In 2001 at Lonoke, 30,000 vehicles went by per day, of which 43% (12,900) were trucks.

In 2018 at Lonoke, 37,000 vehicles went by per day, of which 57% (21,090) were trucks.

So traffic increased, the percentage of trucks increased as well, and car traffic decreased.

Why the latter, we can't say, but are open to conjecture by people smarter than we are. Quoting Yoda: "Many, they are."

But we do have some data from "American Trucking Trends, 2019," from the American Trucking Association. Chapter 5 is elegantly titled "Taxes." Data is presented in three charts.

The first chart is federal highway-user taxes. It shows the trucking industry, nationally, paid $17.7 billion in such taxes in 2017. About two-thirds were in diesel and gasoline taxes.

The second chart is state highway-user taxes. In Arkansas, that sum was $267,212,000. Again, about two-thirds were in fuel taxes.

The third chart is state highway-user taxes on a typical 5-axle tractor semitrailer. In Arkansas, that total was $5,221.

Please note that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law this year that increases wholesale sales taxes on gasoline by 3 cents to 24.5 cents a gallon. And on diesel fuel by 6 cents a gallon to 28.5 cents a gallon. The increases take effect Oct. 1.

You ask if fuel taxes keep up with wear and tear on the interstates. That is, at its essence, a political question because the resources come from taxes. The Legislature and the governor answered this year.

But there's more. See below.

Dear Mahatma: Before the Arkansas Department of Transportation raises the speed limits, they should fix the roads. Interstate 40 in western Arkansas is pothole heaven. -- David

Dear David: Back in March, the Legislature chose to refer to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment would make permanent a 0.5% sales tax that voters approved in 2012 for a 10-year period. The tax is projected to raise about $205 million more a year for highways and $44 million more a year each for cities and counties.

Love this tax? Hate this tax? Make a choice in November 2020.

Fjfellone@gmail.com

Metro on 08/24/2019

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Archived Comments

  • GandKW
    August 24, 2019 at 6:10 a.m.

    A lot of trucks are taking US 79 then US 278 instead of 1-40 and 1-30 from Memphis to Dallas/Houston.

    Where is the proposed I-69? Not in our lifetimes I suppose.

  • Jfish
    August 24, 2019 at 7:47 a.m.

    I believe that railroads and barges are much more efficient at moving tonnage, however, trucks can get it from point a to point b with one haul. I would guess for that reason and their powerful lobby, they are steadily increasing in numbers. I would like to see the railroad and barge industries make a comeback and reduce the number of trucks on the road.

  • rosj2002
    August 24, 2019 at 10:05 a.m.

    Those extra tax dollars sure aren't going back into maintaining our roadways and bridges. More wear and tear on our roads mean worse roads basically. Get used to it.
    Then again, I need to mention those rolling roadblocks. You know, when two 18 wheelers battle it out going up hill for poll position for the next 10 miles tying up both lanes. Fun stuff especially south of Bobby Hopper tunnel on I-49.
    You people know exactly what I'm talking about.

  • tngilmer
    August 24, 2019 at 1:02 p.m.

    Go to the grocery store. Stop and look around. Go to Walmart. Stop and look around. Go to Lowes or Home Depot. Stop and look around. Did you see anything? Everything you saw got there on a truck.

  • GeneralMac
    August 24, 2019 at 1:25 p.m.

    Let them truckers roll 10/4

  • WhododueDiligence
    August 24, 2019 at 3:03 p.m.

    Yes, GMac, but as ROSJ said, let them not roll side by side mile after mile in a long-lasting drag race which drags on forever. Fortunately, most of them truckers refrain from that.

  • wowy
    August 24, 2019 at 4:59 p.m.

    No, wowy just one vote in a huge steamroller that will make wowy pee his pants
    Nov. 2019
    wowy peeing now with laughter because, it's great
    To be alive !!!
    Love TRUMP
    Love momma
    Love daddy
    Love Melania
    .
    LOVE LOVE the ETERNAL INFINATE REALITY
    And, Love Love the Christian God. .
    .
    Oh, love those women too !!!
    .
    ah,
    Thanks !
    .

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