Georgia heavy truck bill moves forward; OOIDA encourages action

February 13, 2023

Keith Goble

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A Georgia House committee has taken the first step toward passage of a bill to allow 90,000-pound trucks on roadways throughout the state. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association encourages Georgia-based truckers to continue to reach out to their state lawmakers about the legislation to allow heavier trucks.

Currently, trucks traversing Georgia roadways are limited to a maximum gross weight of 80,000 pounds. Exceptions are made for haulers moving products that include forest products, live poultry, feed and solid waste.

The House Transportation Committee voted 18-11 to advance a bill that would open the door to heavier loads for all types of trucks and all commodities. Specifically, a 12.5% variance of the 80,000-pound weight limit would be authorized for all loads.

The vote to approve HB189 followed a six-hour hearing with testimony provided by people on both sides of the issue.

OOIDA voices concern about heavier loads

OOIDA President Todd Spencer says higher weight limits historically are not a “winner” for most in trucking.

“While popular with shippers, adding heavier weights on state and county roads is bad public policy,” he said. “You end up with increased wear and tear on roads and bridges not adequately constructed for those loads.

“Any perceived economic benefit going to truckers is quickly eroded by competition leaving truckers with higher costs for fuel and increased maintenance.”

An OOIDA Call to Action sent to members prior to the hearing points out HB189 would add further pressure on state and municipal governments in Georgia to find funds to repair essential roadways when there already is not enough funding for current needs.

State agencies, law enforcement and local governments oppose effort

Points of concern voiced by OOIDA were echoed by many state and local officials who spoke at the hearing.

The Georgia departments of Transportation and Public Safety, and more than 100 local government officials, made their concerns known to committee members.

Meg Pirkle, chief engineer with GDOT, said passage of the bill would result in the agency needing to post load restrictions on more than 1,400 bridges around the state. The figure is double the current number of posted bridges.

She added the designations would result in larger trucks being required to follow long detours to get to a bigger highway. As a result, she said the change would cost companies time.

In addition, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry told lawmakers state and local governments would need to spend billions of dollars more than they already do for road maintenance.

Advocates representing poultry, forestry, and other industries say higher fuel costs, inflation and tight labor markets warrant the change. They add the change would help reduce emissions.

Executive order extended for heavier trucks

Gov. Brian Kemp previously issued an executive order during the pandemic to allow trucks with a gross vehicle weight of up to 95,000 pounds to operate on state and local roads. He cited the need to keep supply chains moving.

The most recent extension of the executive order took effect earlier this month. The order now runs through March 11.

Kathleen Bowen with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia said at the hearing the executive order sets guardrails for the process and is limited in its scope.

“HB189 is a free-for-all. It is all five-axle trucks,” she said. “There are no guardrails.”

Take action

OOIDA encourages Georgia truckers to contact their state lawmakers to voice concern about the issue before HB189 comes up for a full House vote.

FightingForTruckers.com has a link available for truckers to contact their state lawmakers. Visitors simply enter their zip code for a complete list of their federal and state lawmakers. LL

More Land Line coverage of Georgia news.