Senate Proposal To Wrap Up Budget For The Year Includes Leahy Truck Weight Extension For Vermont

Pilot Programs For Vermont, Maine Would Continue To Keep Heavier Trucks On Interstates For Another Year

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, Dec. 14) – U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Tuesday announced that a budget package soon to be introduced in the Senate includes a year-long extension of the pilot programs in Vermont and Maine that are moving heavy trucks off state secondary roads and onto the Interstate highway system. 

The provisions are sponsored by Leahy and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also authored the pilot programs currently in effect in Vermont and Maine, which expire this month.  Leahy is the second most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and both Leahy and Collins also serve on the panel’s transportation subcommittee.  

Current federal law restricts trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds from regularly using the nation’s Interstate highway system.  But segments of the Interstate network in neighboring states allow higher-weight trucks to operate on those Interstates due to special circumstances, from tolling to grandfather clauses.  Before Leahy and Collins secured the initial pilot programs last year, overweight truck traffic was forced to travel on some of the states’ smaller roadways, creating safety concerns and putting pressure on the aging transportation infrastructure.

Leahy said, “No one thinks that overweight trucks should rumble through our historic villages and downtowns on two-lane roads, putting people and our state’s failing transportation infrastructure at risk.  This step will keep these trucks out of our downtowns for another year.  It also will help us determine, with real-world experience, whether it is safer and better for both our infrastructure and the environment to have these trucks use the Interstate system.” 

Leahy and Collins pushed to include the provisions in the Senate’s version of a multi-agency appropriations bill, which is expected to be filed soon in the Senate.  Leahy Tuesday announced success in including the truck weight provisions in the draft bill.  Senate approval of the bill will require a 60 vote supermajority.  Most Democratic senators are expected to support the bill, and it is unclear how many Republican senators will support it.  The Leahy-Collins truck weight provisions are included in the section that includes the annual budget bill for the Department of Transportation.

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