Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill into law Thursday, March 29, that opens more roads in Idaho to heavier trucks.
Idaho’s current weight limit is 105,500 pounds. Multiple trailer trucks with overweight permits can weigh up to 129,000 pounds, under a 2003 pilot program to test the new weight limit on specified highways in the state.
The new law, previously SB1138, expands the program from 850 miles of roads to 1,200 miles of road. It takes effect July 1.
Supporters, including the sugar beet industry, said the measure will reduce pollution and traffic congestion as well as eliminate a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states, The Associated Press reported.
Opponents said the state is bowing to the interests of sugar beet growers at the expense of safety and greater deterioration of pavement. Others said the weight rule hurts small-business truckers in the state who will have fewer loads available to haul.
In the first three years of the pilot program the state issued 24 permits for 369 trips by heavy trucks, The AP reported. Sugar beet haulers accounted for 75 percent of the loads.
The program contains a “sunset clause,” which will take the law off the books in 2013 – unless the Legislature renews it.