West Virginia rekindles coal truck weights issue

| 2/20/2003

West Virginia Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, introduced legislation Feb. 17 to allow trucks to haul 120,000 pounds of coal on certain state roads.

The routes would be approved by the state Transportation Department.

SB583, introduced on the last day for senators to file legislation during the 60-day session, is expected to generate considerable controversy. The House of Delegates axed a similar bill last year after a campaign against it.

Coalfield residents insist the heavier trucks put them at risk, The Dominion Post reported. Coal and some trucking industry officials say weights must be increased to make coal hauling economical.

Chafin’s proposal would require coal haulers to buy annual permits for $500, with the revenue going for upkeep on coal truck routes. Violators would get higher fines and stronger regulations.

The bill is likely to pass the Senate, the newspaper reported. The real fight is expected in the House.

Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, who led opposition last time, told The Post he would oppose any weight increase.

“I don’t think there’s much question that the majority of voters of this state don’t want to see heavier trucks on the road,” Caputo said. “Members will have to decide whether to listen to constituents or to the lobbying efforts of the coal industry.”