Indiana Steel Operators Want Heavier Trucks

December 30, 1999

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Tough competition from overseas is prompting the Indiana steel industry to lobby for increased weight limits on some Indiana highways.

Steel mill operators want to see Indiana's weight limits equal to Michigan's, where exceptions to the federal 80,000-pound weight limit resulted in the 164,000-pound, multi-axle "Michigan trains." Indiana law now allows Michigan train-type trucks weighing up to 134,000 pounds to operate on 14 stretches of Indiana highways between steel mills and the Michigan border. But the difference between the state weight limits means truckers have to either make two trips from the steel mills to the Michigan border, or break the law in Indiana. Truck drivers and police say they do both.
A recent inspection on U.S. 20 stopped 42 trucks with special permits. Fifteen of them were over the 134,000-pound permitted weight. Trucks have been cited in the past carrying well over 200,000 pounds.
A spokesman at the state Department of Transportation says the state's bridges just weren't designed for these heavy loads. He cited a study by Purdue University showing that Indiana would have to make more than $70 million in repairs and upgrades to allow 164,000-pound Michigan trains.

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