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Provisions for Heavier Trucks Removed from House Transportation Bill

2/2/2012 5:30:00 PM
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Provisions for heavier, longer trucks contained in a transportation reauthorization bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday did not survive the bill’s first hearing.

By a 33-22 vote Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee removed provisions that would have allowed states to let trucks up to 97,000 pounds run on interstate highways.

The committee substituted instead an amendment that calls for a study of the impact of bigger trucks on safety and roads.

Currently, trucks are limited to 80,000 pounds on the interstate system, except where exemptions have been granted, most recently in Maine and Vermont.

The committee vote also removed a provision that would have required states that already allow longer combination vehicles — those with three trailers — to expand the number of routes on which the trucks can travel.

American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally called the committee action disappointing.

“There have already been dozens and dozens of studies that show increasing truck productivity reduces truck miles traveled, which not only reduces accident risk, congestion and emissions, but also will ultimately save money in reduced highway maintenance costs,� McNally said.

Another provision that would require all states to allow double trailer rigs with two 33-foot trailers to run on highways remained in the reauthorization bill, said Darrin Roth, ATA’s director of highway operations.

So did a provision that would let trucks up to 126,000 pounds run on 25-mile interstate segments, provided the trucks obtain special permits.

The bill would also require the secretary of transportation to start a field study on the new restart provisions in the hours-of-service rule issued in December by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The five-year, $260 billion surface transportation bill — dubbed the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 — was introduced by John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the transportation committee.

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