DOT distortions win feds' praise

The N.C. Department of Transportation has misled the U.S. Department of Transportation about what's going on in the state's weight enforcement program.

In its most recent annual report, the state DOT said the transfer in late 2002 of weight enforcement duties from the department's Division of Motor Vehicles to the state Highway Patrol had a "moderate impact" on weight enforcement.

The report for 2003, signed by DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett, was dated March 31, 2004, when the number of overweight trucks caught was in a steep decline.

The state DOT report said, "Not all SHP officers are trained in size and weight enforcement. ..."

In fact, only 53 of 1,475 troopers -- 3.6 percent -- were ever trained, and that was in just one aspect of an enforcement officer's job.

In an interview, Tippett shrugged off the report, saying that he didn't prepare it.

The Washington official whose agency reviewed the DOT report wrote a laudatory letter in September, saying North Carolina "stood out" in comparison with other states. Anthony T. Furst, director of the Office of Freight Management & Operations, thanked John F. Sullivan, the top Federal Highway Administration official in North Carolina, for a job well done.

"Congratulations to you and the North Carolina size and weight personnel for your efforts in improving North Carolina's size and weight enforcement program!" Furst wrote. "Please continue to keep up the good work!"