03.29.11

Senators Leahy And Collins Urge House And Senate Leaders To Include Truck Weights Fix In Federal Funding Bill

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, March 29) -- U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have written to House and Senate leaders urging them to include language in the upcoming Continuing Resolution that would permanently allow trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on federal interstate highways in Maine and Vermont.  The federal government currently is operating under the latest in a series of stop-gap budget bills, which expires April 8.

In 2009, Collins and Leahy successfully included a provision in the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that created a one-year pilot project that moved trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds off secondary roads in Maine and Vermont and onto federal interstates.  That pilot project expired in December 2010, and the heaviest trucks are once again traveling on secondary roads and through residential neighborhoods and busy downtowns.

“We have heard from truckers, business people, state and municipal leaders, and law enforcement officials who strongly support allowing these trucks on our states’ interstate highways.  They believe, as we do, that our roads will be less congested, our downtowns and secondary roads will be safer, our air will be cleaner, and our businesses will be more competitive.  Our states need this permanent change for all these reasons,” Collins and Leahy wrote in the letter, which was also sent to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

The full text of the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi follows:

            We are writing to again request the inclusion of legislative language to allow trucks complying with Maine and Vermont’s weight and safety laws to travel on all of the federal interstate highways in our two states. We ask that this language be included in the upcoming Continuing Resolution. Currently, the heaviest trucks in Maine and Vermont are traveling on secondary roads, where they must drive though downtowns on narrow roads and streets. In other New England states and nearby Canadian provinces, trucks weighing over 80,000 pounds are allowed to use federal highways. This creates a large and unfair economic and safety disparity for our two states.

            We are pleased that the Administration was persuaded by the positive results of the pilot study that we were able to authorize in 2009, and requested that House and Senate leaders include language in a CR making the pilot permanent.  Indeed, when the President requested this change in law, he said “continuing the program will improve safety on local roads and increase efficiency of commercial trucking in the region.” 

            A recent study by the Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division showed that there was a 10 percent drop in accidents during the year of the truck weights pilot, compared to the previous year.  By keeping heavy trucks on the interstates where they belong, these trucks are far less likely to come into contact with pedestrians, railroad crossings, and school yards. 

            We have heard from truckers, business people, state and municipal leaders, and law enforcement officials who strongly support allowing these trucks on our states’ interstate highways. They believe, as we do, that our roads will be less congested, our downtowns and secondary roads will be safer, our air will be cleaner, and our businesses will be more competitive. Our states need this permanent change for all these reasons. 

           We ask, therefore, that you include a permanent correction to this disparity as part of the upcoming CR.

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY                    SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS

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