AASHTO Journal

Mississippi Commission Opposes Congress Voting to Allow Longer, Heavier Big Rigs

The Mississippi Transportation Commission said it opposes any proposed congressional legislation that would increase truck weight limits for the Interstate Highway System, and allow commercial truckers to use longer "twin-33" tractor-trailer combinations on interstates.

capitol0816.jpgSupporters of the legislation claim that increased truck length and weight limits will increase efficiency and safety, the announcement noted. However, in a letter to Mississippi's congressional delegation the commission said proposed length and weight increases not only violate current bridge formulas – by which engineers determine permissible vehicle weight levels -- but would also decrease safety and increase repair costs.

All three elected commissioners signed onto the letter.

"The 1975 bridge formula used by the Federal Highway Administration protects the structural integrity of bridges from damage caused by heavy trucks," their announcement said.

The commission noted that last year the U.S. Department of Transportation, in its final truck size and weight report to Congress, recommended making no changes to current truck size and weight limits.

"The final USDOT report concluded that there simply was not enough data to support the claims that bigger trucks would be safer," the commission said in its letter. "In fact, the limited data available showed that heavier trucks have higher crash rates and that longer trucks take 22 feet longer to stop, causing considerable bridge damage."

It continued, saying that "overweight trucks disproportionately damage our badly deteriorated roads and bridges . . . Our maintenance efforts are already seriously underfunded. This type of legislation would further contribute to the destruction of bridges and to the cost of repairs and rehabilitation on states, and ultimately the public."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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