Prior to the pilots, introduced last year by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), commercial vehicles weighing over 80,000 pounds were often barred from interstate travel and diverted onto state and local roads.
In its message to Congress, the administration credited the pilot programs, set to expire in December,- with having improved safety and productivity on Maine and Vermont highways: "Continuing the program will improve safety on local roads and increase efficiency of commercial trucking in the region," the administration said in its request.
"The administration''s efforts represent a significant breakthrough in the fight for trucking industry safety and productivity," said Coalition for Transportation Productivity Executive Director John Runyan. "CTP members know first-hand that heavier trucks belong on better-engineered interstate highways, and we would like to thank President Obama and Sen. Collins for their efforts to make sure the transportation networks in Maine and Vermont remain safe and efficient for motorists, truckers and pedestrians."
Runyan also said other states deserve the same chance to improve highway safety and productivity. CTP supports federal legislation called the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) because it would extend this same opportunity to all states. Originally introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud, SETA would give each state the option to raise interstate weight limits for six-axle, higher productivity trucks.
For more background, see "House Approves Pilot Program to Test Heavy Trucks in Maine, Vermont," 12/11/2009.