Trucking news: AAR comes out against push for heavier trucks
September 24, 2010
On the heels of recent news that White House last week has agreed to a request from Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to permanently enact a pilot program allowing trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on federal interstate highways in Maine, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has made it clear it does not support this push.
Prior to this development, a one-year pilot program that allowed trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on Main and Vermont’s federal interstates, which was part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, has been ongoing and set to expire on December 17. Once the program expired, heavy trucks would then have to be diverted back to secondary roads through downtown areas.
In a letter to Capitol Hill, AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger said that permanently giving the OK for trucks weighing 100,000 pounds to travel on Maine and Vermont’s interstate highways could provide impetus to trucking interests in the Northeast and along the East Coast to lift the federal truck weight ban elsewhere.
“Not only do extremely heavy trucks today exact a serious wear and tear toll on America’s already overextended highways, but much of the costs to repair roads and bridges damaged by heavy-load trucks is paid by taxpayers and not the trucking companies responsible for the damage,” said Hamberger. “The U.S. Department of Transportation has determined that trucks weighing 80,000 to 100,000 pounds pay just half of the cost of the damage they do to the nation’s highways. This huge heavy truck underpayment means that the remainder of these costs is paid for by the general public.”
Hamberger also stated that along with serious infrastructure damage and truck underpayment concerns, 100,000 pound trucks will siphon a significant percentage of freight traffic from the country’s railroads. “This will rob the railroad industry of revenue needed for reinvestment and add congestion to the nation’s highways.”
American Trucking Associations’ Director of Highway Operations Darrin Roth had a different take on the impact of increased truck weight.
“This is not a choice between a 100,000 pound truck and an 80,000 pound truck,” Roth told LM. “Maine and Vermont were already allowing heavier trucks on their secondary road system and will continue to do so regardless of what happens with federal law. The change in federal law with the pilot program and the potential permanent extension of the pilot program allow those states to move those states to the interstate system, which is much more safer and built stronger than secondary roads and does not have as much pavement or bridge damage.”
Roth said it is a positive step forward for Maine and Vermont and is also energy-efficient in that it reduces shipping costs over long distances.
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