Some 1,500 members of local governments from across the country added their names to a letter delivered today to lawmakers opposing any increase in the size and weight of trucks. The letter, entitled "Bigger Trucks: Bad for America's Local Communities" was organized by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks.
Two pieces of legislation in the House propose increasing the maximum weight of trucks by as much as 11,000 pounds. The current federal weight limit is 80,000 pounds.
Earlier this year Rep. Dusty Johnson, a Republican from South Dakota, introduced a bill that would establish a five-year pilot program to allow truck weight on federal interstates up to 91,000 pounds on six axles. At about the same time Rep. Lance Gooden, a Texas Republican, introduced legislation that would allow a 10% weight increase to 88,000 pounds for auto transporters hauling electric vehicles.
Local government officials signing the coalition's letter say bigger trucks would cause expensive damage to their infrastructures.
"Heavier and longer trucks will damage our roads and bridges, leaving local taxpayers footing the bill. We cannot afford this and Members of Congress need to hear our concerns," said Berks County, Pennsylvania Chairman Christian Leinbach in a statement from the coalition. "Trucks do not load and unload on interstates. These trucks find their way onto local roads and bridges, whether it is for meals and gas or to deliver their cargo. This impacts us all."
The coalition said it sent the letter "at the same time bigger-truck proponents lobby legislators to allow longer and heavier trucks on the road. This includes efforts to get their favored language in must-pass legislation, such as the farm bill and appropriations funding bills."
The pressure is on Congress to pass several important funding bills to avoid a possible government shutdown at the end of the month.
Not all of trucking supports bigger and heavier trucks. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association last month sent a letter to House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Appropriations, and Agriculture, asking them to reject efforts to allow heavier trucks on the nation’s highways. OOIDA said the two bills would harm operators of small trucking businesses.
The full text of the Coalition's Against Bigger Trucks letter says:
Representing local communities and Americans across the nation, we are concerned about our transportation infrastructure. We strongly oppose proposals in Congress that would allow any increase in truck length or weight—longer double-trailer trucks or heavier single-trailer trucks would only make our current situation worse.
Local communities and our residents are what drive this country. We work every day to make sure the needs and safety of our residents are met. Allowing heavier and longer trucks will most certainly set us back in our efforts. Much of our transportation infrastructure that connects people to jobs, schools, and leisure is in disrepair, in part because local and rural roads and bridges are older and not built to the same standards as Interstates. Many of us are unable to keep up with our current maintenance schedules and replacement costs because of underfunded budgets.
The impacts of longer or heavier tractor-trailers would only worsen these problems. Millions of miles of truck traffic operate on local roads and bridges across the country, and any bigger trucks allowed on our Interstates would mean additional trucks that ultimately find their way onto our local infrastructure. Longer and heavier trucks would cause significantly more damage to our transportation infrastructure, costing us billions of dollars that local government budgets simply cannot afford, compromising the very routes that American motorists use every day.
On behalf of America’s local communities and our residents, we ask that you oppose any legislation that would allow any increase in truck length or weight.