Drivers can rest a little easier, as it may be a few years before big rigs can increase the size and weight on U.S. roadways.
Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania and Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Illinois, backed an amendment to a transportation bill that would delay heavier tractor-trailer trucks from increasing the federal weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pound for three years. According to an article on CNN.com, it would also allow the largest rigs, which sometimes include two or three trailers, to be as much as 10 feet longer, at a total length of more than 100 feet.
The original legislation was sent before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and included about $260 billion over five years for federal highway programs. But when groups such as the AAA Auto Club found out about the provision for increasing the size of tractor-trailer, they expressed their concerns.
“Local roads will become potholed, buckled, and broken much more quickly. They will need to be repaired and replaced sooner, and the cost for that will fall squarely on local governments and local taxpayers,” said Barletta.
The three year delay will allow time for a study to be completed on the potential costs incurred by allowing longer and heavier trucks on the roads.
Proponents of the bill, like the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, say studies have been done in the past and have endorsed truck weight reform.
“We all value the importance of trucks to our economy, to our recovery…but the trucks have to share the roads with our families, and that’s why we’re never going to let trucks take a priority over the well-being of our families,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation.