WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins expressed deep disappointment after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided Thursday night to abandon efforts to pass a federal funding bill that included a provision written by Senator Collins to extend the pilot program that allows trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on federal interstate highways in Maine. Instead, it appears that the Senate will now move to a short-term funding bill based on the bill passed last week by the House of Representatives that does not include an extension of the truck weights project.
“This is a disappointing setback for those of us who want to change federal law to allow the heaviest trucks to stay on the federal interstates rather than diverting them to secondary roads and downtown,” said Senator Collins, who authored and successfully secured the one-year pilot project last year. “Unfortunately, when the House of Representatives passed a sweeping funding bill last week, it did not include a provision to make permanent or even extend the pilot program. While I was successful in securing a one-year extension of the pilot program in a Senate funding bill, it is now clear that the Majority Leader has abandoned this bill. Instead, it appears the Senate will consider a short-term funding bill similar to the House-passed bill. I will continue to pursue every possible option to extend the successful pilot program; however, it is increasingly unlikely that we can restore the truck weights language that the House failed to include in time to prevent the project from expiring.”
Last year, Senator Collins successfully included a provision in the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill that created a 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 travelling 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.
The pilot project is set to expire at midnight tonight.