Idaho bill authorizes heavier trucks statewide

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, February 29, 2016

The Idaho House could vote as soon as Monday, Feb. 29, to advance a bill that would authorize heavier trucks to access Idaho’s interstate highway system.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes truck size and weight increases.

One bill awaiting an Idaho House floor vote would permit loads weighing up to 129,000 pounds on Interstates 15, 84, 86, 90 and 184 – up from 105,500 pounds. The Senate voted 31-3 earlier this month to authorize the heavier loads.

The U.S. Congress gave Idaho permission late last year to pursue the change.

Advocates say the change would benefit shippers who currently must downsize loads entering from Montana, Nevada and Utah – all of which permit at least 129,000-pound loads. Wyoming allows loads up to 117,000 pounds.

Idaho Senate Transportation Chairman Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said it is a simple bill that aligns the state with the recently passed federal legislation.

“(The bill) is the final step to fully implement this effort in Idaho,” Brackett testified during a recent hearing.

In 2003, Idaho lawmakers approved a pilot project authorizing multiple trailer trucks with overweight permits to weigh up to 129,000 pounds on 35 southern Idaho routes, rather than the previous restriction of 105,500 pounds.

A decade later the change became permanent. In addition, a separate 2013 law permitted the state to add roads in northern Idaho – as long as local highway officials agree.

Supporters of truck size and weight increases also refer to an Idaho Transportation Department report, which found that 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 reported 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 noted that pavement damage and crash rates each increased by at least 10 percent.

If approved on the House floor the bill, S1229, would head to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk for his expected signature.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Idaho, click here.

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