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A looming fight over heavy trucks and the bridges they use when travelling will reach full scale when the legislative session begins in January.
Timber industry advocates contend that in order for them to generate more revenue and provide jobs in a dismal economy, their trucks should be allowed to carry heavier loads that what is allowed by state laws.
On the other hand, local governments say that they can hardly afford to fix the weakened, and in most cases, rutted bridges and roads. They say that heavily loaded trucks will just cause more damage and possibly endanger other motorists who are also using the same roads and bridges. They also raised the grim possibility of the bridges collapsing under the heavy weight of the trucks. The inability of heavier trucks to immediately stop when braking was also pointed out by railroad advocates.
Businesses that ship their cargo by truck have been complaining for many years about the regulation that limits the load of the trucks to only 80,000 pounds. The Legislature has drafted exemptions into state law for industries such as poultry, timber, rocks and farm feed, stating that they can have loads of up to 84,000 pounds.
Pressured by the timber industry, the Legislature is now considering a major change on the load limit. Under the proposed Senate Bill 146, cargo trucks of those business could carry loads of up to 88,000 pounds.
Each side is trying to get the state Department of Transportation’s board on their side to help convince the Legislature.