, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Texas lawmakers acted earlier this year to adopt changes to truck rules that include platooning, truck enforcement, and size and weights. The changes take effect on Friday, Sept. 1.
One new law covers permits for oversize and overweight loads in Chambers County. State law already permits oversize and overweight vehicles along state Highway 99 between its crossing with Cedar Bayou and its intersection with Interstate 10.
Advocates said existing law has been unclear and created confusion on whether oversize and overweight vehicles are allowed on the affected stretch of highway. As a result, they said the confusion has hindered access for heavy-haul trucks in and out of the Port of Houston.
Previously SB1291, the new law expands the portion of SH 99 where such vehicles are issued permits. Specifically, permits could be issued on the frontage road of SH 99. The portion of highway that is tolled is excluded.
Tracking municipal truck fines
A separate new law covers counties and municipalities that enforce truck rules. Specifically, HB2065 requires affected locales to file annual reports detailing the amount of fines collected and the actual expenses incurred for enforcement.
A county or municipality is permitted to retain fines in an amount up to 110 percent of their actual expenses for enforcement. All additional fine revenue will be routed to TxDOT.
More cities authorized to enforce
Another new law, HB1355, adds Midlothian to the municipalities that are permitted to enforce commercial motor vehicle safety rules.
Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, said during discussion on the bill at the statehouse the community south of Dallas-Fort Worth will benefit from increased enforcement authority in efforts to maintain roadways.
HB1570 grants the same authority for the neighboring city of Alvarado.
Birdwell added that the changes in HB1355 and HB1570 are not intended to be revenue builders. He said he supports HB2065 to limit revenue retained by local enforcement.
Oversize trucks at Port of Freeport
Also in effect the first of the month is a new law, HB4156, covering movement of oversize and overweight vehicles along certain roadways to the Port of Freeport.
The $80 per-trip permit fee will be designated solely for maintenance and improvements to designated roadways in Matagorda and Brazoria counties.
Higher Hidalgo County fees
Another new law increases the fee for permits issued for movement of oversize and overweight vehicles carrying cargo on certain roads in Hidalgo County. The fee can be increased from $80 to $200.
The Texas Department of Transportation reports the area’s regional mobility authority issued 24,600 permits in fiscal year 2016. At $80 per trip the permits raised about $1.97 million in fee revenue.
SB2227 could result in annual permit revenue totaling $4.92 million, according to a fiscal note.
Supporters said the $80 fee is too low when compared to the effort required by regional authorities to issue permits and maintain the registration system. Opponents said it has only been four years since the last fee increase. Another increase places an additional burden on operations moving cargo through the county.
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