WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would permanently move the heaviest trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds off Maine’s secondary roads and onto the federal interstate highways.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would permit trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on all federal interstate highways in Maine and Vermont. The bill would require the heavy trucks to be in compliance with all state laws relating to weight and safety.
“My legislation would finally create a level playing field for truck weight limits on interstate highways in Maine and Vermont,” Collins said in a statement. ”Under federal law, trucks that weigh more than 80,000 pounds are forced off the interstate and onto local roads, creating safety hazards for motorists and pedestrians and causing road wear and tear. However, a weight exemption for these same trucks permits them to travel on interstate highways in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. This disparity for certain states simply makes no sense and puts them at an economic disadvantage. Keeping heavier trucks off smaller streets and on the interstate highways where they belong would improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, while reducing congestion, fuel use, emissions, and road damage.”
Last week at a news conference in Bangor, Collins first announced she would introduce the legislation. She was joined by Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia; Houlton Town Manager Doug Hazelett; Brian Parke, President of the Maine Motor Transport Association; and Keith Van Scotter, President & CEO of Lincoln Paper and Tissue, all of whom support her efforts.