Freight Rail Policy Stance: Congress should not increase truck weight limits.
Why This Matters: Any increase in truck weight limits would foist more costs onto taxpayers because larger trucks would result in greater damage to infrastructure and the environment.
Due to concerns about the uncompensated damage trucks cause to our highways, Congress set truck weight limits on the Interstate Highway System at 80,000 pounds in 1982.
In April 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released the final results of a study examining the impact of increasing current federal truck size and weight limits and further concluded that no changes to federal policy on truck size and weights should be made.
These limits make good sense. The fuel taxes and other highway-related fees that heavy trucks pay fall far short of covering the costs of the highway damage they cause. Any federal program that increases federal truck size limits will further subsidize commercial highway users at the expense of taxpayers, exacerbate deterioration of crumbling infrastructure and disadvantage a critical freight rail industry.
In contrast to trucks, freight railroads offer a safe and efficient way to move cargo across the country while operating on privately owned infrastructure they have invested billions into maintaining and upgrading.
Now proponents are seeking a legislative mandate for a multi-state pilot program to increase federal limits on truck weights from 80,000 lbs. to 91,000 lbs. — a jump of almost 14% in truck weight, which would further stress the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges. At a time when policymakers continue to call for investment into and improvement of the nation’s infrastructure, knowingly taking steps to further damage the nation’s federal highway system is misguided policy.