Recently reintroduced in Congress were Senate Bill S.747 and House Bill H.R. 763. While this might not mean much to the casual observer, it means a lot to the members of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP).
First introduced as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), these bills have been reintroduced within the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. They propose that each state be given the option to increase truck weights on its interstate highways from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. These new weight limits would apply only to trucks equipped with six axles instead of the usual five. Truck size would not be affected, but the extra axle would enable the vehicle to handle the additional weight without negatively impacting highway infrastructure, safety, fuel costs, or the environment. In fact, just the opposite would be true.
There is no doubt that truck tonnage on our highways will continue to increase and that the increased tonnage will require additional trucks. The American Trucking Associations estimates that truck tonnage will double by 2035, and the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts that by 2020, the amount of freight shipped in the country will be 87 percent higher than 2000 levels. Obviously, some solution is required, but most industry watchers will agree that highway infrastructure development and improvement are not keeping pace with the volume the system is expected to handle. The CTP and its 180 member firms and associations, as well as others, believe that the heavier weight limits will have a major positive impact on the infrastructure and its capacity, safety, and the environment; and are enthusiastically supporting the legislation.
The really good news is that the long-awaited transportation reauthorization bill will contain provisions to allow or even mandate that the states provide for the larger trucks. If approved, and if the carriers take advantage of the opportunity, these provisions will go a long way toward easing the traffic load on our highways.
Related: Read Cliff's 2011 "Fastlane" article, The 17,000-pound solution | Image by -Paul H-
Cliff Lynch is Principal of C.F. Lynch and Associates. With over 50 years of experience in supply chain management, he has authored a prolific collection of books and articles on the industry.
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