Congress eyes higher truck weights again

The Senate has referred a bill to committee that would increase the Interstate truck weight allowance from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds in states choosing this plan.

On Aug. 4, Sen. Mike Crapo introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2010, or S. 3705. The Idaho Republican’s bill, which has three co-sponsors, would require the heavier trucks have at least six axles.

In 2009, 54 House members co-sponsored similar legislation. H.R. 1799 was referred to the transportation and infrastructure and the ways and means committees.

The American Trucking Associations says the bill would reduce emissions, decrease the number of trucks on the road and fuel usage. Some other nations, including Canada, allow heavier weights. 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said such increases endanger road users and hasten infrastructure deterioration. Many transportation safety groups oppose the legislation and say past size and weight increases have not yielded fewer trucks, trips or miles traveled.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the bill would eliminate Interstate weight disparity in her region because New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts allow higher weights than her home state of Maine.

In March 2009, a bill to freeze Interstate truck lengths, the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, or H.R. 1618, was referred to committee with 128 co-sponsors. The following month, a Senate committee held hearings on an identical bill, S. 779, which has seven co-sponsors. 

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