GRANDVIEW - Nestled between the cities of Grandview and Prosser on I-82 lies the only eastbound weigh station on the interstate.
Yesterday, the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation formally dedicated the weigh station, located approximately two miles east of Grandview near mile post 75.
The new $8 million joint venture has been open since last February and the facility has been designated with the number 741, the same number on the badge Trooper Ray Hawn wore. Hawn was killed on duty when he was hit by a car while he was helping a disabled vehicle in 1990. The site where Hawn was killed is visible from the station, approximately 1.5 miles west on Wine Country Road.
The facility will not only house 12 commercial vehicle division troopers, it will also house a detachment of patrol troopers that used to be assigned to Sunnyside.
"This is a great location for the scale," WSP Capt. Darrin Grondel, commander of the Patrols Commercial Vehicle Division, told those in attendance at the open house.
He said the site has good visibility, is situated ahead of the cutoff for State Route 221 and will benefit citizens by protecting the state's infrastructure.
He also noted by keeping truckers honest with the legal weight of their loads, it will help protect the roads and bridges in Washington state.
Grondel said $4.3 million was spent on construction of the ramps and site work, $1.6 million for the scales and $2.2 million on new technology.
"The money was worth it to prevent fatalities," he said, noting it costs between $1 million and $1.5 million for each collision resulting in a fatality when everything is added up. "The project was built ahead of schedule and $500,000 below budget."
The 2,800 sq. ft. facility sees 1,800 trucks pass by it per day. The facility is equipped with the latest technology, including weigh-in motion technology. This allows trucks to be weighed at highway speeds without having to pull into the weigh station. A truck must have a transponder to use this technology and these can be purchased from the state transportation department for $45.
With the weigh-in motion system, truck drivers with transponders pass an area west of the weigh station where technology reads the weight and gets the truck's information, the transponder will then tell the driver whether they have to pull into the weigh station or not.
The system is 90 to 95 percent accurate, Batiste said.
The facility also employs the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems Network, which allows officers to screen and look for vehicles operated by companies with a known high-rate of accidents or safety problems.
"Inspecting a legal and well-maintained vehicle only slows down the people who are playing by the rules," Grondel said. "Every truck is subject to inspection, but we would prefer to spend our time working with trucking companies who have a track record of excessive weight or safety violations."
The Grandview facility is only one of 11 weigh stations in Washington with this technology and only one of three in Eastern Washington. The plan is to eventually update every weigh station in Washington with this technology, but it's a matter of funding, said WSP Chief John Batiste.
"This scalehouse is a model and represents our future," he said. "This is the most advanced scalehouse we have in the state."
He said the scalehouse will provide the WSP with a better means to keep trucks traveling on the highway safe.
"We're one of the safest states in the nation," he said.
He said Washington state is number one in the nation for seatbelt compliance and number four in the nation with truck traffic safety per million miles driven.