SENATOR COLLINS SECURES PROVISION TO EXTEND FEDERAL TRUCK WEIGHTS LIMIT PROJECT IN MAINE
Proposed Senate funding bill includes one-year extension of Senator Collins’ pilot project
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today that she has successfully convinced her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to support a one-year extension of the pilot program that exempts Maine’s federal highways from the 80,000 pound federal truck weight limit. Senator Collins authored and successfully secured the pilot program last year, and she has now successfully secured a one-year extension in a federal funding bill currently being drafted in the Senate.
“Increasing the federal highway truck weight limit on Maine’s interstate highways has always been one of my top priorities in the Senate,” said Senator Collins. “The pilot project I secured last year has clearly provided economic, energy, and environmental benefits and has made our secondary roads and many downtowns safer. I am delighted that my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee recognize the importance of extending this successful pilot project.”
Last year, Senator Collins successfully included a provision in the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill that created the one-year pilot project that allows trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on Maine’s federal interstates, such as I-95, 195, 295 and 395. According to the results of a preliminary study by the Maine Department of Transportation, the pilot program has allowed Maine businesses to receive raw materials and ship products more economically, thus helping to preserve and create jobs. It has also improved safety, saved energy, and reduced emissions. For example, on a trip from Hampden to Houlton, a truck traveling on Interstate 95 saves 50 minutes over Route 2 and avoids more than 270 intersections and nine school crossings. The driver also saves approximately $30 on fuel by traveling on the Interstate.
Extending the pilot project will continue to keep heavy trucks off Maine’s secondary roads and on the state’s federal highways for another year, during which the Federal Highway Administration will continue to study the impact of safety, commerce and road wear and tear. Senator Collins’ pilot project is already supported by several public safety and business groups including the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Maine State Police, the Maine Troopers Associations, and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.
Last year, Senator Collins was appointed to a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. In June 2009, during a Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Senator Collins first raised the issue of Maine’s truck weight disparity with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who pledged to help address this issue. Since then, Senator Collins has worked with the Administration which, at her request, proposed a provision to make the pilot program permanent.
The Senate is expected to consider the proposed federal funding bill, which includes the one-year extension, later this week. If passed, the measure will be taken up by the House of Representatives. In a funding bill passed last week, the House did not include any language to extend the pilot.