Over 1,000 local government leaders – including mayors, county engineers and public works directors – wrote a letter this week to Congress asking policymakers to oppose any increases in truck size or weight, including longer double-trailer trucks and heavier single-trailer trucks. The letter, entitled “Bigger Trucks: Bad for America’s Local Communities,” was delivered on Thursday, Feb. 22, to Capitol Hill offices. Click here to read the letter.
“The letter sends a powerful message to lawmakers in Washington to maintain commonsense current truck size and weight laws and oppose longer and heavier trucks,” said Commissioner Dick Hall, chairman of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, who joined in sending the letter.
Hall noted the additional costs that taxpayers will face to repair damaged roads and bridges. “Our state and local budgets are on life support,” he said. “We just don’t have the revenue coming in to fund our infrastructure, and it’s been that way for a long time,” said Hall. “Bigger trucks would only further damage our infrastructure system and impact safe driving conditions.”
The letter is being delivered at the same time bigger-truck proponents continue to lobby federal and state legislators, as well as the Trump administration, to allow longer and heavier trucks on the road. Those companies leading coalitions are Anheuser-Busch lobbying Congress for heavier tractor-trailers, and Amazon, FedEx and UPS pushing Congress for longer double-trailer trucks.
The federal government has recommended against increasing the size and weight of trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) studied truck size and weight laws over three years and in 2016 delivered its report to Congress, which recommended against any such increases and did not recommend any pilot projects. The USDOT study found that thousands of Interstate and other National Highway System bridges would not be able to accommodate longer or heavier trucks, costing billions of dollars in additional bridge costs.
The joint letter states, “Millions of miles of truck traffic operate on local roads and bridges across the country, and any bigger trucks allowed on our Interstates would mean additional trucks that ultimately find their way onto our local infrastructure.”
Shane Reese, director of communications for the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, commented on the negative impacts on local infrastructure. “One issue often overlooked during these bigger-truck discussions is that truck traffic does not load or unload on the Interstate — they end up on local roads, and those roads take a beating,” he said. “Those costs end up being passed on to local taxpayers, which is nothing short of an unfunded mandate.” Reese continued, “We’re asking Congress to hear the concerns of community leaders and infrastructure experts across the country, and to oppose any bigger-truck proposals.”
In addition to the 1,000 community leaders opposed to bigger trucks, a January 2018 poll found strong public opposition to heavier and longer tractor-trailers. The national live-operator poll found that 7 out of 10 likely voters oppose heavier and longer trucks.