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Sen. Lautenberg helps introduce 'safe truck' bill, garner federal rail and port security grants


On May 15, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced the Safe Truck and Operations and Preservation Act of 2008, or STOP bill, which aims to maintain an 80,000-pound weight limit for tractor trailer trucks on interstate highways and establish a maximum truck length of 53 feet to improve safety and “prevent excessive strain” on the nation's roads, tunnels and bridges.

Bigger trucks present safety risks, including longer stopping distances, rollovers and a potential for the last trailer to sway into an adjacent lane, the legislators say. The Association of American Railroads and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, in conjunction with the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, long have opposed legislative efforts to increase truck weight and size.

The bill also would place a freeze on triple-trailers on the national highway system, which includes interstates and smaller national highways.

"Our bill would protect our infrastructure and improve safety on our roads by helping keep dangerously large and heavy tractor-trailer trucks off of them," said Lautenberg — who proposed a similar bill in 2003 — in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Lautenberg and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on May 16 announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will award three East Coast states more than $263 million in federal funds for freight- and passenger-rail, port, bus and infrastructure security. Funding levels increased because of a higher congressional appropriation for DHS security grants this year, Lautenberg said.

Through the Transit Security Grant Program, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York will receive $175.4 million for freight- and passenger-rail security. In addition, the southern N.J.-Philadelphia region will receive $18.9 million, and CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway will obtain unspecified security grants.

Through the Port Security Grant Program, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will receive $65.7 million and Maritime Exchange will obtain $20 million.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/20/2008