OVERWEIGHT-BOX RULES DELAY DRAWS PRAISE

OVERWEIGHT-BOX RULES DELAY DRAWS PRAISE

Port, shipper and ocean-carrier representatives weighed in Tuesday with endorsements of the Department of Transportation's decision to postpone implementing overweight container rules for more than a year.

The Federal Highway Administration announced the deadline extension, to Sept. 1, 1996, last week to allow the intermodal transportation industry more time to comply with the new regulations.Officials from the American Association of Port Authorities, the National Industrial Transportation League and the Steamship Operators Intermodal Committee echoed the government's reasoning, saying that without the delay some disruptions could occur in the flow of commerce.

The FHWA's rules would apply to each of the 12 million annual international and domestic intermodal container shipments, including all truck movements to and from ports. They would implement standards imposed in the Intermodal Safe Container Act of 1992.

The original effective date of the rules was June 27, 1995. That date had already been pushed back to Sept. 27 of this year before last week's announcement.

"We supported a delay. I'm glad it's postponed from the September" date, said Jean Godwin, AAPA's government affairs vice president.

"The bottom line is the industry wasn't ready to implement" the rules, she said. "The important thing is not to put the rules in place before people are ready."

"A strict interpretation of the rules as currently promulgated causes shippers concern because of their potential to disrupt commerce," said Peter Gatti, the NIT League's policy director.

Under the rules, anyone shipping an intermodal container or trailer having a gross cargo weight of more than 10,000 pounds, and using at least two means of transportation, would have to certify to the first carrier the weight and a reasonable description of the contents. The certification would have to be passed on to each subsequent carrier.