Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., reintroduced a bill that would restrict truck size and weight limits. His move positions a familiar piece in the size-and-weight chess match as the next highway bill approaches.
Lautenberg has long opposed any loosening of current regulations.
His proposal would expand the 80,000-pound, 53-foot federal limit from the 44,000-mile Interstate System to the 220,000-mile National Highway System. It also would expand the current freeze on triple trailers to the National Highway System.
This bill will go up against a competing proposal, offered by Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, that would allow states to increase their Interstate limit to 97,000 pounds for trucks with six axles.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is preparing a comprehensive size and weight study that will look at the safety and economic implications of changing the federal limits, including permitting the 97,000-pound, 6-axle combinations.
The study, due by the fall of 2014, is a compromise that arose from the highway law, MAP 21, that Congress passed last summer.
Trucking and shipping interests were pressing for a provision similar to what Rep. Michaud has offered, but they could not overcome opposition from safety advocacy groups and railroads, and had to settle for the study.
Michaud expects the study to provide the information Congress needs to vote on a size and weight provision in the next highway bill, due October 2014.