OSP Weigh station bypassing enforcement near La Grande may be reflective of state trends

LA GRANDE – On Friday, May 17, 2024, the Oregon State Police (OSP), in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), conducted a weigh station bypass enforcement operation at the La Grande weigh station located along I-84 Eastbound between mileposts 258 and 259, roughly 1.5 miles west of La Grande. During the operation, 15 semi-trucks were pulled over and issued citations.

Following the enforcement operation, some local residents expressed confusion as to the open status of the weigh station and the purpose of the enforcement operation. According to ODOT, the La Grande weigh station is currently open and has not been shut down for any significant length of time as of recent, nor have any issues been reported with the open/close sign. As written by ODOT Motor Carrier Enforcement Safety Program manager Carla Phelps:

“The open/close sign is functional at La Grande. When and whether it is staffed is based on our staffing availability. We are there as often as possible, day and night, because it is a mainline scale – still, there will be times when we’re not able to open. Juggling portable operations and mainline functions is always a balancing act with availability of staff.”

As to why the enforcement operation was conducted, the ODOT Commerce and Compliance Division has been seeing a statewide increase in illegal bypassing of weigh stations. According to Phelps, ODOT indicates that roughly 60 to 80 percent of vehicles caught bypassing weigh stations are “placed out of service due to non-compliance of federal safety regulations.” Violations include improper credentials, tax issues, account suspensions, over-dimension of the vehicle, and CDL issues, among general federal safety violations, all of which will negatively impact a driver’s CDL record.

Again, illegal bypassing, according to ODOT based on current data, is a generally increasing trend and not specific to any individual route as of now. Nonetheless, ODOT and OSP are beginning to enforce existing weigh station regulations, with La Grande having been selected for one of these enforcement operations by OSP. When asked why La Grande was specifically chose and if the weigh station has been a problem area for bypassing, OSP stated:

“The OSP / ODOT joint venture, initiated by OSP, was an effort to increase CMV traffic safety through enforcement of Oregon’s motor carrier laws. Motor Carrier officials who run the LG weigh station have told us that bypassing has been an on-going problem. The LG Weigh Station was selected for our efforts as it is within the LG Area Command (our area of operation).” According to the OSP, further enforcement efforts will likely take place this year, though no specific operations are planned at this time. Keep in mind that, according to ODOT, public notice is not required to be given in advance for such operations. For those interested in Oregon’s weigh station policies, more information is available at: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/MCT/Pages/EnforcementScaleOperations.aspx