Infrastructure woes would increase if bigger trucks are allowed, coalition says

March 31, 2021

Mark Schremmer


Allowing heavier or longer trucks would only make the nation’s infrastructure problem worse, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks told committee leaders in the House and Senate.

In a letter sent on Wednesday, March 31, the coalition, which includes such organizations as OOIDA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the National League of Cities, said that increases to truck size or weight would further deteriorate the nation’s highway system.

“U.S. DOT studied the impact of various longer and heavier truck configurations on the National Highway System and found that the additional cost of the damage to both roads and bridges would add billions of dollars to our already strained system,” the coalition wrote to the leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, and the Senate committees on Environment and Public Works, and Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The letter cited existing problems with the nation’s roads and bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation a grade of C-minus on its infrastructure report card. Most notable to truckers, the United States received a C on bridges and a D on roads.

The report said 42% of the more than 600,000 bridges are at least 50 years old and that more than 40% of the nation’s road system is in poor or mediocre condition.

Longer or heavier trucks certainly won’t help the problem with infrastructure, the coalition said.

“Increases in truck length and weight would have especially severe consequences for local roads and bridges,” the coalition wrote. “Local roads and bridges face significant damage because they may be older, not built to the same standards and interstates, or already in poor condition. This adds further pressure on state, county and local governments to find funds to repair essential roadways when there are not sufficient revenues procured today to cover the infrastructure maintenance costs.”

The infrastructure coalition

  • Association of American Railroads.
  • American Public Works Association.
  • American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
  • GoRail.
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
  • National Association of Counties.
  • National Association of County Engineers.
  • National Association of Towns and Townships.
  • National League of Cities.
  • National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association.
  • Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
  • Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association.
  • Railway Supply Institute.
  • SMART Transportation.
  • Truckload Carriers Association.
  • The United States Conference of Mayors.

OOIDA letter

In a separate letter sent to the leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on March 30, OOIDA tackled a variety of topics, including truck size and weight.

OOIDA said increasing the size and weight of trucks would diminish safety, further deteriorate highway conditions, and negatively affect small-business trucking companies.

“Various U.S. Department of Transportation studies have revealed crash involvement rates for vehicles configured with a sixth axle to carry 91,000 pounds were consistently higher than the rate for five-axle control trucks,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote.

OOIDA also is against efforts to allow longer combination trailers known as twin 33s. During a House hearing earlier this month, FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith touted twin 33s as a way to help the climate. However, OOIDA said the idea is more economically motivated.

“Allowing (twin 33s) on our roads would only benefit a handful of large corporate motor carriers but would have a negative impact on safety, infrastructure and the rest of the trucking industry,” Spencer wrote.

“At a time when Congress must address crumbling infrastructure and declining revenues to the Highway Trust Fund, you should not be taking steps that would make it more difficult to address these problems.” LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.