June 09–WASHINGTON D.C. — A renewed effort by segments of the trucking industry to allow larger twin-trailers trucks on U.S. highways stalled in the U.S. Senate this week.
The Senate Appropriations Committee never took up a proposed amendment to the 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD, pronounced t-hud) bill to increase federal limit for 80,000-pound twin-trailer rigs from 28.5 feet per trailer to 33 feet.
Spokeswomen for West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito — who both sit on the committee — confirmed that the committee advanced the bill without the amendment.
Proponents of the increase say longer trailers are more stable and less likely to roll over than the 28-footers. They will lower fuel consumption, reduce congestion and reduce vehicle miles traveled and road wear.
Opponents say the change would make the roads less safe.
Some states allow the bigger trucks on their roads but the U.S. Department of Transportation has been hesitant to weigh in on the issue.
A 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation study indicates the 33-footers require 22 more feet to come to a stop than the current versions — 252 feet compared to 230.
But that same year, DOT Under Secretary Peter Rogoff wrote to House and Senate transportation committee members saying that the available safety data and so scarce, results of allowing larger trucks can’t be predicted. He urged them to delay any action until more facts are available.
A citizen’s group called Coalition Against Bigger Trucks opposes the legislation and previously contacted The Dominion Post about the issue.
Following Thursday’s Appropriations Committee non-action on the amendment, Coalition spokesman Shane Reese said on Friday, “Senators stood up for motorists and taxpayers and did not consider bigger-truck language. Law enforcement leaders and local officials have voiced their concerns year after year that longer and heavier trucks are too dangerous to motorists and too damaging to roads and bridges.
“We thank the Appropriations Committee, including Sens. Manchin and Capito, for its leadership in maintaining commonsense truck size and weight laws, and for protecting West Virginians from bigger trucks,” Reese concluded.
On May 23, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed its version of THUD. An amendment to its bill adds report language directing the U.S. to report on any updated findings on the impact of increasing the length of twin-trailer trucks to 33 feet.
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