Pilot program would allow heavier trucks on Maine interstates

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The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, an advocacy group of more than 100 shippers and allied associations dedicated to responsibly increasing federal weight limits on interstate highways, on Friday, Sept. 18, applauded the U.S. Senate for passing legislation enabling Maine to conduct a one-year pilot program allowing 100,000-pound six-axle trucks on interstates within the state.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) included the provision in the FY 2010 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, which passed Thursday, Sept. 17, by a vote of 73 to 25. The provision now must be approved by a House-Senate conference committee before it can take effect.

“Sen. Collins’ program will make Maine’s roads safer and greener by allowing producers to consolidate freight on fewer trucks and minimize both their fuel use and emissions,” says John Runyan, CTP executive director. “The heavier weight limit will reduce risk by giving trucks access to a multilane interstate system engineered for heavy commercial vehicles, and the ability to leave the rural roads they are currently forced to use. This pilot program will also allow Northeastern producers to more efficiently export goods to Canada, a country that already allows trucks to carry more weight. Manufacturers feeling the economic pinch can reduce their shipping costs and preserve valuable jobs.”

Elsewhere in the appropriations bill:

  • The legislation’s Senate report on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that safety has been improved, but much still needs to be done in this area and in oversight. It relied on reports from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office and the National Transportation Safety Board; and
  • The legislation requires that DOT submit an annual report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on the “safety and security of transportation into the United States by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers.”