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Local officials warn Congress against bigger trucks

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Local officials warn Congress against bigger trucks

Local officials are urging members of Congress to steer clear of any provisions that would allow longer or heavier trucks to operate on roads. A group of 1,000 local leaders, including current mayors and county officials, argued in a letter to lawmakers that allowing heavier or longer trucks on roads will destroy infrastructure that their governments cannot afford to repair.

“Allowing heavier and longer trucks will most certainly set us back in our efforts,” the letter reads.

“Longer and heavier trucks would cause significantly 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,” the leaders add.

The push from local officials comes as Congress aims to pass an omnibus spending bill by March 23. The letter was distributed to lawmakers’ offices on Thursday.

Safety advocates have long argued that larger, heavier trucks are a danger and take a toll on roads and bridges. But companies like FedEx have pushed to increase the twin tractor-trailer length from the current 28-foot standard to 33 feet. The issue has been the subject of debate within the trucking industry. The Truckload Carriers Association, which represents members of the freight industry, is adamantly opposed to any legislation backing a 33-foot standard, arguing it would increase the costs for truckers who would need to update their fleets.

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans oppose bigger, heavier trucks. The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) in a poll released last month found that a majority of respondents, 79 percent, oppose “longer and heavier trucks” operating on the road. 

“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,” CABT communications director Shane Reese said in a statement about the letter to lawmakers.

“We’re asking Congress to hear the concerns of community leaders and infrastructure experts across the country, and to oppose any bigger truck proposals.”

The letter also comes after President Trump unveiled an infrastructure plan that would rely on state and local governments, in addition to the private sector, to foot much of the bill for a rebuilding effort. Democrats have denounced the administration’s plan, arguing that cash-strapped localities cannot afford to fund the projects to overhaul American public works.

The Mississippi Transportation Commissioner, who signed the letter, said the budgets for local governments are already “on life support.”

“We just don’t have the revenue coming in to fund our infrastructure, and it’s been that way for a long time,” Dick Hall said in a statement. “Bigger trucks would only further damage our infrastructure system and impact safe driving conditions.”

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