Overweight permits OK’d for Tacoma, Wash. port

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Washington’s Port of Tacoma truckers should be relieved of the dilemma of overweight transload cargo with the passage of legislation completing the Heavy Haul Industrial Corridor.

Gov. Christine Gregoire signed House Bill 1181, which allows the state Transportation Department to issue special permits for what is generally less than a 2-mile trip. The new law adds State Route 509 to the corridor, which connects several segments of City of Tacoma roadways.

A common example of the problem the law should address occurs when frozen poultry arrives by rail, said Port Executive Director Timothy Farrell. In Tacoma, that cargo is transloaded from rail into a container and then trucked to a marine terminal for export.

“Because of how these shipments originate, their strict requirements for documentation, and how they are configured for rail and steamship transport, shipment weight occasionally exceeds the vehicle specifications,” Farrell said.

The entity operating or hiring the vehicles moving the overweight sealed containers must pay $100 per month or $1,000 per year for the permit. For-hire carriers and rail customers cannot be made to pay for the permit. The maximum gross vehicle weight permitted will be 105,000 pounds.

Stakeholders, including local trucking companies, have met regularly for three years to establish the corridor. The Legislature unanimously approved the bill, which takes effect July 24.