Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) has introduced a bill to allow states to authorize vehicles up to 97,000 gross vehicle weight to travel on the Interstate Highway System within the state. The bill was introduced on March 30th and was subsequently referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill has three co-sponsors: Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).
While the bill allows larger trucks on routes where the state authorizes them, it also allows the Secretary of Transportation to terminate operation of vehicles over 80,000 lbs. on any routes on which the secretary determines the heavier trucks pose an unreasonable safety risk.
Under the bill, axle weight limits are set at 20,000 lbs. for a single axle, 34,000 lbs. for a tandem axle, and 51,000 lbs. for an axle set of three or more. A 2,000-lb. variance is allowed on any axle set.
States would be required to produce an annual report describing operating requirements on the roads where the heavier trucks would be permitted. In addition to providing safety statistics, states would also be required to perform a five-year assessment of the impact on pavement and bridge maintenance costs the heavier vehicles might have. The bill also adjusts the overweight vehicle tax by rasing the cap to $800 per year.
States that would seek to increase weight limits on specified Interstate Highways within the state would be required to do so by statute, so any authorization for an increase must pass a vote in the state's legislature.