House Committee to “Further Study” Truck Weight Reform

When he learned that the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure decided to commit further study to the truck weight reform proposal that had been included in the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, John Runyan felt like he was reliving the same moment over again. As executive director of The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of 200 shippers and allied associations dedicated to “safely and responsibly” increasing the federal vehicle weight limit on interstate highways, Runyan voiced his group’s displeasure yesterday.

“It really is ‘Groundhog Day’ today because this very committee asked the Transportation Research Board to study this same issue back in 1998, and the Board strongly endorsed truck weight reform in its Special Report 267, issued in 2002,” he said. “There is no need to commit further study to this truck weight proposal. Voluminous academic research and practical on-the-ground experience has proven that states should have the option to put more productive, six-axle trucks on interstates. It is a safe and effective way to boost highway efficiency and productivity without increasing truck size or making trucks ‘bigger’ in any way.”

The truck weight reform measure was part of a broader section of truck productivity measures that the Transportation Committee decided to include in a three-year study.

This specific proposal would allow states to opt into a higher federal (interstate) vehicle weight limit for single-trailer trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five. The required sixth axle maintains all braking and handling characteristics at the new limit of 97,000 pounds—enabling shippers to safely utilize truck space that remains empty at the current 80,000-pound federal weight limit. The group believes the proposal would reduce the truckloads, vehicle miles and fuel necessary to meet demand.

“While we are very disappointed in the outcome, our effort is far from over,” continued Runyan. “In less than three years, CTP has grown into a strong, national organization with more than 200 members committed to truck weight reform. We intend to redouble our efforts and move forward. We will be working with members of Congress to introduce a significant amendment during consideration of the Highway Bill on the house floor.”

The truck weight proposal that was contained in the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is based on federal legislation known as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA). The bill was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Michael Michaud (D-ME) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) as H.R. 763. Identical companion legislation, S. 747, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

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