Congress Likely to Debate National Truck Weight Limits

Article excerpt

The Congressional debate over transportation will likely include a discussion of national truck weight limits. Legislation to maintain the current maximum weight of 80,000 pounds for longer combination vehicles (LCVs) allowed on the 161,000-mile National Highway System has been introduced in the House and Senate for the last several years. Congress set the current limit of 80,000 pounds as the maximum weight at which a truck can operate on Interstate highways in 1991.

Critics of these heavier trucks, including safety advocates, oppose them because they are harder to control and stop. For states and local governments, concerns include the damage to already stressed highways and bridges. Currently, an estimated 23,550 of the 116,523 bridges on the National Highway System are rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration,

Proponents of the higher weight limits argue that allowing the heavier trucks would mean fewer trucks to move the same amount of goods and increase highway safety. Legislation freezing the current 80,000-pound limit on federal highways has been introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). The Safe Highway and Infrastructure Preservation Act, H.R. 1574, and S. 876 in the Senate, has 61 cosponsors in the House and four cosponsors in the Senate. …