A coalition of local officials from across the country are calling on Congress to oppose proposed legislation that will allow an increase in the length and weight of large trucks traveling on commercial highways.
In a letter sent Monday, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) said the measure would impact the current transportation infrastructure in their small communities, warning that rural roads and older bridges are not “built to the same standards as Interstate.”
CABT also said that most municipalities can't “keep up with our current maintenance schedules and replacement costs because of underfunded budgets.”
“The impacts of longer or heavier tractor-trailers would only worsen these problems,” CABT said in a statement, noting that bigger trucks on interstate highways would inevitably mean bigger trucks on local roads as well.
“Longer and heavier trucks would cause significantly more damage to our transportation infrastructure, costing us billions of dollars that local government budgets simply cannot afford, compromising the very routes that American motorists use every day.”
CABT is a nonprofit organization that advocates for highway safety and sound transportation policies. Over 1,500 local government leaders across the country signed the letter.
The rule changes are part of the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-CA) earlier this year. It would increase safety and shipping capacity for truckers, as well as providing other recruitment and retention incentives for drivers.
The letter comes as big truck proponents are lobbying lawmakers to include their favored language in must-pass legislation such as the farm bill and appropriations funding bills.
One recent study found that more than 72,000 local bridges across the country would be put at risk by 91,000-pound trucks, the current weight limit being debated in Congress. It also found that the costs to replace those bridges would be more than $60 billion, with local governments noting current legislation includes no additional funding for infrastructure.
“On behalf of America’s local communities and our residents, we ask that you oppose any legislation that would allow any increase in truck length or weight,” the letter concludes.