Pennsylvania law boosts weight for natural-gas-powered trucks

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/1/2017

Action at the Pennsylvania statehouse boosts truck weights for certain vehicles, and a separate effort would update trailer width.

The new law is intended to promote the use of cleaner-burning natural gas in large trucks.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law to increase the maximum allowable weight limit for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas. Specifically, SB589 increases the maximum weight from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambria, said Pennsylvania is the latest state to take advantage of the FAST Act approved by Congress in 2015. The act allows states to increase their allowable weights for natural-gas-powered vehicles. He added that the change is necessary to accommodate the heavier equipment needed for natural-gas-burning vehicles.

“The law not only bolsters our Commonwealth’s status as a major hub for transportation but also helps us reduce air pollution and promote a healthier environment,” Langerholc said in written remarks.

Effective Sept. 18, the change applies to all state highways and interstates.

Also included in the new law is a provision to permit stinger-steered transporters up to 80 feet. The overhang can be up to 4 feet on the front and 6 feet on the rear of the combination.

In addition, cargo or general freight is permitted to be backhauled by transporters as long as the load is in compliance with normal weight limitations.

A separate bill introduced in August would update the vehicle code to reflect the standard trailer width of 102-inch-wide trailers.

Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Butler, said his bill “will reflect the reality that 96-inch-wide trailers are just not available anymore except by special and costly order.” He adds that the trailers remain the standard in the state’s 1976 codified vehicle code.

“In fact, a 96-inch trailer is an added cost of over $1,000 per trailer and a six- to eight-month lead time as the assembly lines have to be reconfigured to accommodate such a request.”

The bill would allow the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and municipalities the ability to restrict these vehicles where necessary on specific roadways.

He adds that stores in the state, including Dollar General, Wegmans and Giant Food Stores, will soon have more than 1,600 trailers affected by the change.

HB1699 is in the House Transportation Committee.

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

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