Sen. Lautenberg: Heavier trucks don’t belong on our roadways

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/27/2012

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, a long-time opponent of increased truck sizes and weights on federal highways, says now is not the time to put additional strain on the nation’s infrastructure.

Lautenberg is urging House leadership not to include provisions for increased truck size and weight in the next highway bill.

“Larger and heavier trucks also mean more wear and tear on our infrastructure. This point is critical, considering the backlog on highway and bridge maintenance in the current budgetary climate,” Lautenberg wrote to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica of Florida and committee ranking member Nick Rahall of West Virginia on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Mica’s committee plans to introduce its version of the surface transportation reauthorization bill next week. An authorization bill covers policy and funding along with provisions for motor carrier safety.

Shippers and big-business trucking have attempted for years to increase truck limits beyond 80,000 pounds. If changes to truck size and weight are to be considered by Congress, the authorization bill is the likely avenue.

“As you finalize your surface transportation reauthorization legislation, I ask you to not include any provision allowing larger and heavier trucks on our highways,” Lautenberg stated in the letter. “Thank you for your consideration of this critical issue.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes measures that go beyond current laws regarding truck size and weight. The Association says Lautenberg’s position on this issue is spot on.

“We appreciate Sen. Lautenberg’s attempt to throw cold water on the divisive language that we hear could be included in the House version of the highway bill,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill said.

“We often don’t see eye-to-eye with the senator on many issues pertaining to trucking, but in this aspect, the senator is spot on if the committee is considering putting an increase in the bill.

“It is disappointing to say the least that the voice of small businesses may be ignored and an increase to truck size and weights could be included,” O’Neill said. “Certainly, such a provision would be a potential road block to the passage of a bill.”

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