PHOTO – FLICKR – DAMIAN GADAL
Or so Big Beer would want us to believe! Representatives of Anheuser-Busch stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers to discuss allowing heavier tractor–trailers on our nation’s roads. 11,000 pounds heavier in fact, increasing the current weight limit of 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds.
“James Sembrot”, the company’s senior director of logistics strategy, told POLITICO that it will urge lawmakers to push for creating a pilot program for “a limited number of states” to allow six axle trucks carrying up to 91,000 pounds on roads in participating states.”
A number of industries, apart from Big Beer, are interested in increasing truck weight limits. The American Forest and Paper Association, the International Foods Association and the Coalition of Transportation Productivity are all in favor.
James Sembrot stated that Anheuser-Busch ships millions of trucks every year and a lot of them are 60% empty because of the weight restrictions.
Carriers Would Face Significant Costs
“The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) argues an increase in allowable weight limits and six axles would become a de facto mandate for all carriers, as they would be pressed by market conditions to retrofit their equipment with a sixth axle and other necessary equipment to haul 91,000 pound loads to keep up with competitors.”
“Such equipment updates range from $3000 – $4800 a trailer, TCA argues, which would cost even midsized carriers potentially millions. Upfitting would also come with high ongoing operating costs such as brakes, tires, lower mpg and more.”
The bottom line being that, especially in today’s soft market, there is no way that rates would increase enough to offset the installation and increased operational and maintenance costs. The cost burden would land squarely on the shoulders of the carriers.
Heavier Trucks Would Cause Even More Damage to Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure
The Association of American Railroads are not too happy either. Their argument is that heavier trucks would create even more damage to our already fragile infrastructure. The taxes and fees the truckers pay are already far less than required to offset the costs of infrastructure repairs. So motorists and the general public would have to make up the shortfall through higher taxes.
According to the DOT’s Highway Cost Allocation Study 80,000 pound five axle combination trucks cover just 80% of the damage they cause to the highways. 97,000 pound trucks cover just 50% of their cost responsibility.
In April 2016, DOT released a study of safety, infrastructure and efficiency issues surrounding federal truck size and weight limits. It found that if 91,000 pound trucks were allowed on the highways more than 4800 bridges would have to be strengthened or replaced at a cost to the taxpayer of up to $1.1 billion.
And we mustn’t forget that trucks haul over 70% of our nation’s freight. If that were to increase through increased load capacity of each truck rail competitiveness would decline.
A United Opposition
A group of 13 trucking industry stakeholders has written a letter to the leadership of the Senate and House appropriations committees stating opposition to any legislation, including a pilot program, that would seek to increase maximum truck weight limits on federal highways beyond the current standard of 80,000 pounds on five axles.
The signatories include Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, SMART Transportation Division, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Truck Safety Coalition, Railway Engineering – Maintenance Suppliers, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Railway Supply Institute, National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Road Safe America, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Railway Systems Suppliers.
And an amendment to a $325 billion highway funding bill that would’ve allowed states to decide whether they wanted heavier trucks on their roads was soundly rejected in a 187–236 house floor vote. But no doubt the bitter fight will continue.
In Case of a Beer Shortage
So if in the unlikely event that Big Beer fails in its duty to supply your local region citing, “the weight limits on our delivery trucks are too low,” I am absolutely confident that the Independent Craft Brewers Association will direct you to an alternative source!
If you’re interested in learning how shipping by rail might better meet your freight transportation needs call New Mexico Transloading at 505 – 908 – 1911. We’d be delighted to have a conversation with you.