Noticing fewer 18-wheel trucks and potholes on your town’s roads? Feeling less crowded by trucks on state roads or in downtown Presque Isle? U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud wants to hear from you.

Michaud, a 2nd District Democrat, wants Mainers to e-mail him stories about how they and their communities are affected by a recent federal and state action that exempts Maine’s federal highways from the 80,000-pound federal truck weight limit.

Since mid-December, trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds have been allowed onto interstate roads north of Augusta. The one-year pilot program’s goal is to help truck drivers survive the crushing economic burdens placed on them by high diesel fuel costs and the recession.

“It would be extremely valuable to share firsthand experiences of Mainers in my fight to make this pilot program permanent,” said Michaud, a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member who plans to share the stories with congressional leaders and his fellow committee members.

“Maine deserves a permanent solution to this issue so that we can improve road safety, increase productivity and remain economically competitive with our neighbors,” Michaud said in a press statement.

“While the pilot program was a good first step, I want to make sure that we are in the best position possible to extend it so that it doesn’t expire at the end of the year,” he added. “Stories from Mainers will help me illustrate just how common-sense this fix is and how important it is to so many of our communities.”

Under the previous law, trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds were prohibited on interstate highways in and north of Augusta.

A recent study of road traffic and accidents noted that the incidence of crashes of five- and six-axle combination trucks was seven to 10 times higher on Maine’s noninterstate highways than on the Maine Turnpike, which is exempted from the federal weight limits, state officials say.

National findings show that rural interstate highways are three to four times safer than rural secondary roads, and 82 percent of commercial-vehicle-related fatalities in Maine occur on noninterstate roads. The new law removes an estimated 7.8 million loaded truck-miles of travel from Maine’s primary and secondary highway system each year.

The congressman’s online response form: