Three new laws in Kentucky are intended to benefit certain overweight vehicles and to help farmers.
Gov. Matt Bevin has signed into law a bill to permit trucks hauling aluminum, or other metal commodities, to weigh 50 percent more. Effective July 1, 2020, loads will be authorized to weigh up to 120,000 pounds.
Fine amounts for violating the weight rule would be increased to as much as $500.
Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, has said the change is intended to accommodate growing industry in the state. She added that Kentucky has surrounding states that already offer 120,000-pound permits.
Single-trip permits are set at $100. Annual permits will be $1,250.
Steel products or materials are also permitted to weigh up to 120,000 pounds for up to 150-mile trips. Annual permits will be set at $250.
“One of the major reasons this bill was brought forward is to bring balance to our state, especially when we compete across state lines,” Miles said during House floor discussion.
Critics cited concerns about highway and bridge deterioration.
“We all know that roads deteriorate more rapidly the heavier the weight on the roads,” Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said during House floor discussion.
Miles maintained that the additional permit requests would boost revenue for the state’s road fund to cover road repairs.
Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, said it is “absurd” to claim that additional fees generated by overweight truck permits would offset the extra wear and tear on roads.
A separate provision in HB184 covers vehicle haulers. Effected vehicles will be allowed a 14-foot height limit.
Another new law adds feed haulers to the list of loads permitted to top the 80,000-pound threshold on two-lane and four-lane state highways.
State law already permits a 10 percent weight tolerance for loads that include fill dirt and rock, coal, concrete, solid waste, livestock, and farm crops. Affected loads are not permitted on interstate highways.
Previously HB174, the new law adds trucks hauling feed for livestock or poultry.
The change also permits livestock and agriculture haulers to exceed the gross weight provisions by 4 tons to make their first stop.
Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said the changes are necessary to combat losing some of Kentucky’s poultry industry to other states.
“It’s a competitive market out there, and we have to compete with other states,” Hornback said on the Senate floor.
Advocates add the change, which benefits companies that include Tyson Foods, will result in fewer truck trips and improve road safety.
One more new law covers the transportation of farm equipment.
State law has required large equipment that includes farm tractors to have outer wheels removed from the axles and transported separately.
Previously HB265, the new law expands the state’s definition of non-divisible loads to include transportation of farm equipment.
Rep. Walker Thomas, R-Hopkinsville, said the change would save farmers and equipment implementers time and money.
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