Close this search box.

Montana Weigh Station Automation

Project #: 290547
Start Date: 06/25/1997
End Date: 10/30/1997
Status: Completed

Ensuring carrier compliance at weigh stations and ports-of-entry is labor-intensive and often inefficient. As commercial vehicle volumes increase, the challenges facing enforcement and regulatory agencies heighten. Often, the review or inspection of vehicle registrations, vehicle weights, vehicle insurance, vehicle condition (to ensure safety), driver licensing, tax disbursements (including fuel and mileage taxes) and special trip permits results in a lengthy truck queue that may affect mainline travel. Regulatory and enforcement personnel often must allow trucks to bypass the weigh station or port-of-entry to ensure safety for mainline travelers. Traditional solutions for improving weigh station/port-of-entry operations have included: (1) allowing trucks to pass without a full check of their credentials (i.e., perhaps only weight is checked); (2) building additional weigh station/port-of-entry facilities; (3) reconstructing existing weigh station/port-of-entry facilities to allow for longer truck queues off the mainline and (4) hiring additional regulatory and enforcement personnel to speed processing. These practices have proven to be ineffective due to escalating property and labor costs. The application of advanced computer and communications technologies through Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), in particular, electronic pre-clearance systems, serves as an alternative solution. No electronic pre-clearance abilities currently exist at any weigh stations or ports-of-entry in Montana. The use of a weigh-in-motion system as part of an electronic pre-clearance system is important to the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). Currently, there are only two multi-state electronic pre-clearance systems in use or planned for use in the western U.S.:· PrePass™ system – in use, an automated, electronic pre-clearance system owned and operated through a public-private partnership· Multi-jurisdictional Automated Pre-clearance System (MAPS) – under development, an automated, electronic pre-clearance system that is state-owned and publicly operated (states may involve the private sector in system administration or other activities)A third system, Partners in Compliance (PIC), is a non-automated pre-clearance system operated through a regulatory- and industry-related public-private partnership in Alberta, Canada.Formal documentation describing the benefits of electronic pre-clearance systems was limited with the exception of a few select documents. As such, researchers supplemented information obtained through a literature review with information gathered through telephone interviews, meetings and site visits. Those interviewed by the research team included equipment technicians, system directors, system marketing representatives, motor carrier services managers and motor carrier representatives. Interview questions were designed to solicit information related to the overall system concept, specific system components, system functions, system robustness and system costs. A summary of significant system-related findings is provided in Table E-1.Over time these systems and their supporting structures have evolved and will continue to evolve. A direct comparison of these systems is not recommended for the following reasons:· one of the systems, MAPS, is still under development and has not yet had the opportunity to fully evolve;· system providers are flexible and can adjust both system capabilities and system costs to meet the needs of various state regulatory and enforcement agencies andsystem selection hinges upon each state’s vision, perspectives, policies and resources; this report lacks information related to Montana-specific system requirements.


Examine multi-state electronic pre-clearance systems in use or planned for use in the western U.S.


  • Steve Albert
    Steve Albert