Like identical companion legislation pending in the House of Representatives, SETA would give each state the option to raise interstate weight limits selectively from 80,000 pounds to up to 97,000 pounds. The higher limit applies only to vehicles equipped with six axles instead of the typical five. The additional axle would not affect truck size, but would allow shippers to use extra cargo space.
“SETA is a narrowly drawn bill that enables companies to move a given amount of product in fewer vehicles without adding more weight per tire or increasing stopping distances,” said John Runyan, executive director for the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of more than 180 shippers and allied associations backing the legislation.
Runyan said SETA is supported by data collected from academic, state, federal and international experts who have evaluated the proposal and support the six-axle, 97,000-pound configuration. He pointed out that SETA leaves the decision in the hands of state officials.
The American Trucking Associations has estimated the trucking industry will haul 30 percent more tonnage in 2021 than it does today. If current weight restrictions remain the same, ATA estimates the U.S. economy will require 18 percent more trucks driving 27 percent more miles than now.
The House version of SETA, H.R. 763, was reintroduced in February by Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Michael Michaud (D-Maine).
— Staff reports
Groups oppose diverting highway funds
As Congress prepares its next long-term transportation funding bill, trucking groups have testified before a House subcommittee against using fuel taxes to fund non-highway projects.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations were among 40 witnesses appearing before the House Highways and Transit subcommittee March 29-30.
Congress should not follow a White House proposal to shift Highway Trust Fund dollars to non-highway transportation projects, OOIDA member Kristopher Kane testified. The next highway authorization bill should fund non-highway projects such as transit from the General Fund instead of using fuel taxes, said ATA Chairwoman Barbara Windsor.
Kane said private entities should not be allowed to invest in existing highways and then increase or add tolls. But OOIDA supports allowing states public-private partnerships to add new rest areas and expand services at existing rest areas. The next six-year funding bill should have dedicated funding to expand truck parking, OOIDA said.
Lisa Mullings, president of truck stop trade group NATSO, asked Congress to oppose amending or repealing federal law that prohibits commercial development on interstate right-of-ways. She testified it would signify government intrusion into the private sector and jeopardize related businesses and jobs.
— Jill Dunn
CARB offers filter credit