Act Would Give Feds Authority Over Length and Weight

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to introduce the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, which has drawn mixed reactions because it would remove states’ authority to further expand truck weight and length limits.

The legislation would extend interstate highway truck weight limits to the National Highway System, instead of allowing states that jurisdiction. It would also place regulating truck trailer length under federal authority instead of state officials.

Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations, requested support for opposing the bill in a Feb. 28 letter sent to 50 state transportation departments. It was introduced as HB 3132 last year, but did not pass.

“This abrogation of state authority will have serious impact on your local businesses’ ability to adapt to future circumstances and will take away one of the few tools available to states as they attempt to reduce highway infrastructure costs, prevent traffic accidents and cut mobile source emissions,” Graves wrote.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association “has always been an advocate of uniform size and weights,” said Todd Spencer, association executive vice president. “Usually shippers, not truckers, are interested in increasing weight limits. There’s little or no gain for the trucker. What gain you make is eaten up in taxes and fees.”

Kevin Bakewell of the American Automobile Association described SHIPA as a reasonable way to preserve roadways.

“It does not roll back current state laws,” said Bakewell at a March 24 congressional field hearing in Florida on truck safety and mobility. “It simply shifts to Congress an appropriate national jurisdiction over any proposed increases affecting the National Highway System.”