Two shipper and trucking groups are merging to marshal their efforts to raise heavy truck weight limits to 97,000 pounds through legislative action on Capitol Hill.
Americans for Safe & Efficient Transportation is joining the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, delivering about 40 new members to the CTP.
With ASET in its fold, the CTP will have more than 160 shippers and allied associations as members, including manufacturers such as Archer Daniels Midland, Kraft Foods, Georgia Pacific, Owens Corning and American Gypsum.
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ASET and the CTP will combine management, with CTP's John Runyan remaining as executive director. ASET's long-time executive director Jake Jacoby will leave the organization to join the Truck Renting & Leasing Association as vice president.
Both groups support the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, which would thaw a freeze on heavy truck size and weight limits Congress enacted in 1991.
"Our united effort, combined with strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, positions SETA to finally move forward in the next Congress," said Walter Bay, Chairman of ASET and President and CEO of Tandem Transport.
SETA, introduced in both the House and Senate, would allow states to raise the weight limit to 97,000 pounds for trucks with six axles rather than five.
But the bill faces a steep uphill haul. Highway safety advocates oppose lifting the 80,000-pound weight limit for tractor-trailers, fearing it would lead to more crashes.
Concerned about the cost of potential road damage and safety issues, some local governments also oppose allowing heavier or longer trucks on highways.
The National Association of Counties passed a resolution opposing any attempt to lift truck weight or length limits at its annual conference in August.
"NaCo strongly opposes any legislation that seeks to increase truck size or weight beyond the capacity of our current road systems," NaCo President Glen Whitley said.
Past efforts to raise truck weight limits have failed, but manufacturers, retailers and truckers are renewing their bid, claiming bigger trucks can be "greener" trucks.
The CTP claims raising the weight limit by 17,000 pounds would allow shippers to reduce the number of trucks needed to ship goods by filling trailers more efficiently.
Bigger but fewer trucks would also consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions, the CTP says, and would result in fewer miles traveled for each ton shipped.
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