California resolution discourages longer, heavier trucks

| 7/31/2008

An effort in the California Senate that urges the resistance of any attempts to allow longer, heavier trucks on roadways throughout the state. It will likely draw consideration once lawmakers return to the Capitol Monday, Aug. 4.

The non-binding resolution awaiting consideration on the Senate floor is intended to affirm opposition at all levels of government for proposals to increase the size or weight of commercial vehicles. There is concern about the affect that increases would have on highways and bridges, Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, D-Long Beach, wrote in an analysis on the bill.

If approved in the Senate, the joint resolution – AJR52 – would move to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk. The Assembly already approved it.

All legislation must be approved by both chambers before the end of the regular session, which is scheduled for Aug. 31.

An analysis of the measure points out that existing federal and California laws establish length, width and weight limits for a variety of vehicles and vehicle combinations. Generally, the total length of a combination of vehicles is limited to 65 feet while vehicle width is limited to 102 inches. Typically, tractor-trailer weights may not exceed 80,000 pounds, while lower maximum weights are applied for smaller transport vehicles.

According to Karnette’s office, certain groups have indicated they will ask Congress to remove the “freeze” on longer combination vehicles as part of the reauthorization of the federal highway funding bill, which will be in the works during the next two years.

It also was pointed out that legislation currently in the U.S. Senate would raise the federal interstate weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds on federal highways, including interstates in California. The heavier limit would be restricted to tractor-trailers with six axles.

Opponents of longer, heavier trucks say the change would have a negative impact on California roads and bridges. They note that bridges in the state were built and designed where there were fewer and much lighter trucks traversing roads.

Increasing truck size and weight would require that many bridges throughout the state be replaced or strengthened, opponents say. Others say allowing super-sized trucks on California roadways would put the safety of the motoring public at risk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor