The efforts of the Agricultural Transportation Efficiency Coalition (AgTEC) to increase allowable truck weights to 97,000 pounds for a single truck on the federal highway system moved significantly further this week when Congressman Michael Michaud (D-Maine) introduced H.R. 1799, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009.
AgTEC was one of three coalitions hosting a fly-in event last week in Washington, D.C., with more than 75 participants making over 100 visits to members of the House and Senate. Their efforts secured three more co-sponsors of H.R. 1799.
Fletcher R. Hall, Chairman of F.R. Hall & Associates and consultant to AgTEC, stated, "H.R. 1799 introduced by Congressman Mike Michaud is a piece of legislation whose time has come. In order to increase the efficiency of trucks transporting raw agricultural commodities and forest products, reduce congestion and carbon emissions from trucks, improve safety on secondary roads and prevent more jobs losses, especially in the forest products and paper industries, the passage of H.R. 1799 is essential."
H.R. 1799 provides an option for individual states to increase allowable truck weights on a single-trailer truck up to 97,000 pounds on federal interstate highways in each state. Motor carrier vehicles would be required to add a sixth axel for better braking and handling. Each truck adding an additional axel would be required to pay a higher large vehicle user fee to a Safe and Efficient Vehicle Trust Fund to assist with maintenance and bridge repair.
"This innovative legislation has been well thought out and addresses many of the issues associated with the needs of our transportation infrastructure, transportation efficiency, and environmental footprint in the 21st century," explained Hall. "By creating the Safe and Efficient Vehicle Trust Fund, the proposed legislation also addresses a way to fund much needed bridge repairs, a key component in the next highway bill."
The Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation, as well as the Coalition for Transportation Productivity also participated in the fly-in.