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Legacy Highway vital to trucks

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It is early morning in January of 2002. I have been at work for 1 1/2 hours already. Right now I am waiting for a load at a shipper high in the Oquirrh Mountains.

As I face east to the Wasatch Mountain range, I watch the first fiery blaze of the rising sun play its rainbow orchestra on the heavens, more intensely on the scattered clouds that drift majestically between patches of pale blue to turquoise to deep purple sky.

Later today will come varying degrees of stress and pleasure as I traverse the crowded highways of Utah. There will be all imaginable levels of traffic, heavy and light. There will be all types of drivers, professional and ignorant. And there will be all types of customers, pleasant and rude.

Some days I hook and drop as many as 20 trailers before I can rest this old truck. Other days I move only two. Some days I work all of my legal 15 hours and other days I am sent home under protest after only eight. I need 12 to survive, but the winter always brings more eight-hour days than 15-hour ones.

Some days I can think of nothing in this world that I'd rather be doing. Other days I curse the moment I looked up with amazement at that first big shiny truck and knew I was looking at my future home.

Right now I have no idea what this day will bring. Yesterday left no hints, and every call on the dispatch radio will change the aspects of this day's adventure. Good or bad, I take 'em as they come.

I don't think that society or the government owes me anything but a fighting chance for what I do, but I know in my heart that neither could survive without me.

I also know that our current highway capacity is not sufficient to meet the needs of even our immediate future, let alone the distant future.

Without trucks, there would be no food on the shelves, no fuel in the pumps and no lumber for the houses. Traffic would not be a problem because only a wealthy few would be able to own cars, and those would have to be all-terrain vehicles. Without trucks, our highway system could not exist.

Some people call this the technological, computer or information age. That may be true, but no computer can produce a single 'byte' of food and neither can they keep you warm. Without trucks, there would be no computers. Not only because of the need to transport those computers but, more important, because society without highway transportation has more important things to worry about. Things like getting the cows fed and milked, the eggs collected and the crops harvested and stored.

Highway transportation is the secret that turns Third World countries into superpowers. It is what allows a Cache County dairy farmer to sell his cheese in Salt Lake and a Utah County software manufacturer to sell his wares in Ogden. It allows us in Utah to sell our salt and copper in Idaho and then get Idaho's potatoes back to our stores still fresh from the field. Try that with a mule team and you will soon be pining for the old days, diesel fumes and all.

When the trucks stop, either from a lack of sufficient highways or from unwise legislation, Utah stops.

If you've got it, a trucker brought it, and the trucks need the Legacy Highway. That means you do, too.

Keith Hamblin has been involved in the trucking industry for 23 years. Currently, he is a local driver for Specialized Rail Service in Salt Lake City.