Photo: Jim Park

Photo: Jim Park

The Arizona Department of Transportation has begun a year-long pilot program allowing heavier trucks to use one of the state’s key transportation corridors to test the effect on commercial transportation efficiency.

The program, which started on Sept. 1, allows trucks carrying up to 83,000 pounds to travel on interstate 10 between mileposts 232 and 279 in Tucson and Marana, on Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales, and on Business 19 in Nogales.

“These roadways are key commerce corridors that contribute significantly to Arizona’s economy,” said John Halikowski, ADOT director. “Operating at the speed of business means that ADOT looks for ways to make freight travel as friction-free as possible while safeguarding Arizona’s investment in our highways.”

The main reason for the weight increase is that freight containers passing through the Port of Tucson are allowed by railway permits to weigh a maximum of 53,000 pounds while the trucks that haul them usually weigh about 30,000 pounds, according to ADOT. By raising the weight limit by a small amount, there is no longer a need to offload some of each container’s contents before it goes on a truck. This can help commerce move more freely.

The pilot program will allow ADOT to study whether the higher weight limit has an impact on the condition of highways.  The Port of Tucson is a full-service facility located off Interstate 10 near Kolb Road that serves both the trucking and railroad industries.

“Increasing cargo capacities on interstates 10 and 19 will make southern Arizona more competitive, help attract new commerce, and retain the companies and jobs we have,” said Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County board of supervisors. “The ADOT Interstate 19 Heavier Truck Pilot Program is a great step in reducing logistics costs for our region’s businesses. The program will also help to clarify the infrastructure impact of trucks carrying fully loaded containers.”