Gov. Butch Otter signed into law a bill to make permanent a decade-old pilot project in Idaho permitting heavier trucks on certain roadways. More roads could also be added.
In 2003, Idaho lawmakers approved a pilot project authorizing multiple trailer trucks with overweight permits to weigh up to 129,000 pounds, rather than the previous restriction of 105,500 pounds. The trucks are allowed on 35 southern Idaho routes.
Effective July 1, the change becomes permanent. A separate bill signed into law opens the possibility of adding roads in northern Idaho – as long as local highway officials agree.
Supporters of truck size and weight increases refer to an Idaho Transportation Department report that found the weight change authorized 10 years ago saved companies money and reduced truck trips without much change to wear and tear on affected roads. Additionally, the agency reports there wasn’t an increased danger to the public.
Opponents, including OOIDA, question the results. They point to a congressionally mandated pilot program in Vermont on heavier trucks. A Federal Highway Administration report notes that pavement damage and crash rates each increased by at least 10 percent.
A companion bill signed by the governor requires public hearings be held before designating any new roads for the heavier trucks.
Otter wrote in a letter to Senate President Brad Little that safety must be the highest priority.
“The process of considering nominated routes also must include timely, well-noticed public hearings and notification of adjacent property owners,” Otter wrote.
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