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Todd Dills

Roundup: I-5 bridge collapse weighing heavy, operators flying the flag

| May 28, 2013
Many of the same issues are in the political foreground today around highway regulation and funding -- the use of tolls v. fuel taxes, whether to increase or otherwise further limit truck weight -- as in 2007 when the Minneapolis I-35W collapse led a discussion of funding issues I wrote for Truckers News.

Many of the same issues are in the political foreground today around highway regulation and funding — the use of tolls v. fuel taxes, whether to increase or otherwise further limit truck weight — as in 2007 when the Minneapolis I-35W collapse led a discussion of funding issues I wrote for Truckers News.

Back in 2007 when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, there was just as today a distinct lobbying effort toward allowance for higher weight limits on the National Highway System. The lobby in the years since has had a bill allowing states to boost weight limits to 97,000 lbs. nearly perpetually in process in the U.S. Congress (and perpetually opposed by OOIDA) — this session’s version we recently reported on here, introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud in the House under the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act name back last February. The bill, as with many numerous others that have preceded it, would legalize 97,000 lbs. in tractor-trailer combos provided there’s an extra axle on the trailer to reduce axle-group weights. OOIDA has its own favored weight legislation, which I wrote about in this post.

Truck weight had more or less nothing to do with the critical cause of the Minneapolis collapse back in 2007; initial reports indicate that could be likewise in the I-5 collapse (though the NTSB investigation will no doubt continue for some time), with height of the drilling module housing being hauled by Canada-based Mullen Trucking being the primary culprit for investigation (likewise processes of the state agency that issued the permit for the route and height and potential inattention of either the driver or the pilot car escort, or both). In both Minneapolis and I-5 cases, though, as I recall from prior reporting and recent commentary, it didn’t take long for opponents of the truck-weight measure to chime in. The general tenor of the commentary has weighed heavily on my deja-vu scale.

As wrote Scott Grafton within an hour of Overdrive‘s posting of news on the collapse on its Facebook page, “And people are pushing for longer, heavier trucks…”

In Grafton’s defense, this was before everything that was known about the likely cause of the collapse, but it points to the nimble moves, connections made by the contemporary political mind, where there’s seemingly always a way to make a detail or event mean whatever you want it to mean.

Under our news of the collapse, as drivers discussed the particulars of the accident and some debated just who to blame, a reader posting as “It Could Have Been You” had this to say:

Just like most incidents out here on the road: Too many people jump to conclusions prior to hearing the real story.

The question that lingers: How would those whom automatically jump to these conclusions feel if it were them that were the driver?

I personally would want the truth to be made known based upon the facts.

How easy is it to sit behind a computer screen or microphone making statements just merely to be heard?

There is an old saying: It is an empty wagon that makes the most noise.

All the same, I don’t imagine the fact of the collapse will do anything to help the cause of 97,000-lb. trucks. Where do you stand on the issue?

Patriotic challenge
Charles Linde put this thought out this weekend via our Facebook page ahead of the Memorial Day holiday: “I’d like to put a challenge out to all drivers,” he said, “to fly their flags to support our troops and vets. Who will join me?”

He shared this shot of his own rig:

Charles Linde's truck flies the flagAnybody else routinely flying their flag this way?

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  1. […] Ya gotta watch that third world comment stuff, it can come up and bite your hiney without warning, eg: Bridge collapses in U.S. highlight fears about infrastructure spending – Business – Times Colonist Roundup: I-5 bridge collapse weighing heavy, operators flying the flag | Overdrive – Owner Operators… […]