91,000/6 legislation in Congress would bring heavier trucks to Interstate highways.A Congressman has introduced a bill to make big rigs bigger. Many truck operators don’t want it, but associations of shippers who move bulk commodities do.
Pointing to productivity and safety benefits, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) introduced legislation in September to allow 91,000-lb., six-axle tractor-trailers on the federal interstate highway system. The Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act (SAFE Trucking Act) is being offered as an amendment to the surface transportation reauthorization, or highway bill.
Ribble explained the extra axle would distribute the weight load and actually improve braking power, compared to a 5-axle rig at 80,000 pounds. And current infrastructure standards can support 91,000-lb., six-axle loads without additional “rehab costs” to Interstate bridges, he said. Additionally, he expects an increased weight limit on federal interstate highways would shift some truck traffic away from those state highways where higher limits are currently permitted.
“For me, it’s not just about productivity, but it’s the increased safety by having fewer trucks moving more product in a safer manner,” Ribble said. “Our roads are already heavily crowded. This 13-percent increase in capacity is heavily significant in moving more freight with fewer vehicles. This would also result in reduced fuel costs and CO2 emissions.”
Citing financial pressures, the Truckload Carriers Association announced it was opposing the legislation, saying costs to retrofit existing tractor-trailers could rise above $24,000 per vehicle. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also opposes the bill; the American Trucking Associations has taken no position on the legislation.
In Ribble’s home state of Wisconsin, lumber and paper mills would benefit, and have come out in support of the measure, through the American Forest & Paper Association. Trade groups for feed and grain, dairy, soybean, and brewery interests have also endorsed the plan, known as 91,000/6.
When you express it numerically that way, the concept becomes what is known as an “improper fraction,” if you remember your grade school arithmetic. Whether or not it’s improper, it’s bound to be fractious.