Senators Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont) and Susan Collins (Republican, Maine) secured inclusion of the measure in the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee’s annual funding bill. The Subcommittee approved the bill Tuesday and the full Senate Appropriations Committee did so Wednesday. It has yet to face the full Senate, and a similar measure would have to be introduced and approved in the House.
Collins said via press release that her goal was to permit “the heaviest trucks to travel on our federal interstates in Maine rather than being forced to use secondary roads and downtown streets. … Safety is my top concern. My provision would not increase the size or weight of trucks. Maine law already allows trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to operate on state and municipal roads. But these same trucks are not allowed on the interstates, where it is safer for them to travel.”
A year ago, the Maine Department of Transportation argued in a report that letting heavier trucks use interstates would “increase traffic safety, improve the environment, increase business competitiveness and reduce transportation infrastructure costs.”
On the other hand, Parents Against Tired Truckers and the Truck Safety Coalition issued a joint press release that called the subcommittee’s actions “irresponsible” and “a ‘corporate giveaway’ for the trucking industry.” They said the subcommittee showed “complete disregard for the safety of families sharing the road with these overweight trucks.”