The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would put a new fee system into place for very heavy trucks, called “megaloads.”
Currently, any trucking company that hauls oversized loads across the state has to receive a special permit from the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The agency has a schedule of fees for different types of loads, with the exception of those above 500,000 pounds.
The new permit fee would charge five cents per mile for each thousand pounds over 500,000 pounds. Currently, the SCDOT negotiates the rates on a case-by-case basis.
Rep. Joseph Daning (R-Berkeley) said the state needs the fee to cover SCDOT’s costs of plotting out the route of such a heavy load. The plotting usually requires engineers to examine each bridge and highway on the way to make sure the roads can handle the weight. Daning explained on the House floor.
If we don’t raise this fee, then all the taxpayers of South Carolina have to support the costs of a commercial mover moving 500,000-pound loads across our state roads and bridges.
Such cargo usually consists of large generators and other heavy industrial equipment. SCDOT’s records show seven “megaloads” move across South Carolina in an average year.
Right now, J.E. Oswalt & Sons Moving in Batesburg is the only company in the state that transports loads of that size. Company president David Oswalt said he would prefer the state keep charging fees the old way.
The loads are so large and each load is different. I would rather it be on a case-by-case basis.
Oswalt added the proposed cost was “a little higher” than in other states. He said he was concerned the legislation would go into effect immediately if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor. Oswalt said the company makes most of its bids with customers two years in advance and would not have factored in the fee increase in its current contracts.
Rep. Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) said he viewed the fee as a tax on businesses. He got into a brief debate with Daning.
Despite his comments, Ott did not vote on the bill at all. It passed 80-9. Eight Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg), opposed it.