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Bill backing heavier trucks re-enters House


On Feb. 18, Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Mike Michaud (D-Maine) reintroduced the Safe & Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) or H.R. 763, which would enable states to increase truck weight limits on interstate highways.

Current truck weight limits, which were established in 1982, are set at 80,000 pounds. SETA would enable states to increase the limit to 97,000 pounds.

The United States currently lags behind Canada, Mexico and Europe, which already have increased truck weight limits, and many states already permit heavier trucks on state and local roads, said Schmidt in a prepared statement. In addition, half-full trucks that are common on today’s highways are increasing shipping costs for manufacturers, the agricultural industry and consumers, she said.

“This legislation will make businesses and agriculture more competitive in the global marketplace,” said Schmidt.

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) — a group of more than 180 shippers and associations dedicated to increasing federal weight limits on interstate highways — supports the bill.

“Many shippers hit the 30-year-old federal weight limit with significant space left in their rigs and must use more truckloads, fuel and vehicle miles than necessary to get products to market,” said CTP Executive Director John Runyan in a prepared statement. “SETA gives each state the option to correct this inefficiency by raising its interstate weight limit for trucks equipped with an additional axle.”

However, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Coalition Against Bigger Trucks and other rail industry constituents long have opposed efforts to increase truck weights on highways. For example, heavier or longer trucks should not be allowed on highways unless trucking firms pay the full cost of the damage they cause, AAR officials believe.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/22/2011