Louisiana approves longer, heavier loads at ports

June 27, 2022

Keith Goble


A new Louisiana ports law is touted to address supply chain concerns.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed into law a bill to create a new tandem load permit for trucks hauling to and from shipping ports in the state. The new rule took effect immediately.

State Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, said the rule change is needed to help address problems in the trucking industry that he attributes to a truck driver shortage.

“Constituents are trying to get products and supplies, and everywhere you turn around the people they are trying to buy them from are waiting on products and supplies so they can sell them,” Smith previously testified.

“One of the problems we are having is we just don’t have enough trucks to bring all of these trailers. That is what is creating the backup.”

He added that there is not enough time to wait for new truck drivers to come into the industry.

New rules

Previously SB477, the new Louisiana ports law allows tandem loads, or combination loads. Specifically, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is authorized to issue a special, biannual permit for affected loads.

Tandem loads are permitted on 20-foot shipping containers with a single tractor. Load limits would be set at 140,000 pounds.

Loads could not be more than 40,000 pounds per axle – up from 37,000 pounds per axle. There is a 60,000-pound cap per tridem axle spread.

Overall length could not be more than 83 feet.

The department must approve routes for the tandem loads.

Tandem shipping containers can apply for permits to travel on designated state and U.S. routes. Interstate highways are excluded.

Changes are authorized through July 2026.

The sunset date for the Louisiana ports law was included to address Louisiana DOTD concerns about larger trucks on state roadways.

DOTD Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda previously told lawmakers the agency is concerned about adding more cargo weight to roads and bridges.

“We just keep ratcheting things up every year with more and more overweight permits. Where does it stop?” Kalivoda said. “It ultimately has an impact on the infrastructure in the state, and it has to be paid for.”

OOIDA concern about longer, heavier loads

Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says longer, heavier loads significantly compromise margins of safety on roadways.

The Association also challenges driver shortage claims. Instead, Pugh says trucking suffers from overcapacity – too many trucks, trailers, and drivers.

“Wages, working conditions, and rampant driver turnover are proof of this.” LL

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