Houston City Council delays vote on overweight fees

| 7/31/2007

Truckers and motor carriers are throwing some weight behind their opposition to a proposed ordinance in Houston that would require extra permits and fees for oversized and overweight loads.

City Council Member Adrian Garcia, who proposed the ordinance to limit truck sizes and weights and charge permit fees to pay for street maintenance, agreed to delay a vote and to consider input from the trucking industry, City Council spokeswoman Rhonda Sauter confirmed for Land Line on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

The proposed ordinance had been included on the agenda Wednesday, Aug. 1 for a council vote, but that vote will be delayed until at least the end of August to allow time for meetings between the council members and the Texas Motor Truck Association, Sauter said.

“The TMTA has asked to work with (Garcia) on a few of the things they believe to be issues, and he has agreed to give them that time,” Sauter said. “We’re going to create a work group with them, meet with them, and see what we can work on.”

John Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Motor Transport Association, said member motor carriers were surprised when the issue appeared on the agenda in mid-July because not many cities charge extra fees on top of what the states charge for oversize loads.

“We fully understand that the city is seeking ways to repair damage done by overweight vehicles and can appreciate the councilman’s leadership in seeking to address the issue,” Esparza told Land Line. “However, as stakeholders, we firmly believe that we can and should be a viable and active part of the solution.”

Sauter said the Houston City Council could potentially vote on the ordinance – or another version of it – in late August.

The proposed ordinance mirrors the size and weight limits applicable to trucks running on interstate and state highway networks – a maximum length of 65 feet; a maximum height of 14 feet; and with a maximum weight as follows: 16,000 pounds on high-pressure tires on any one axle, 20,000 pounds on low-pressure tires on any one axle, or 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle.

Anything over those dimensions would have to pay fees to the city, if the ordinance were to pass as currently proposed, ranging from $145 for a single trip to just more than $2,000 for an all-inclusive annual pass per oversized truck.

– By David Tanner, staff writer