Natural gas powered trucks have many advantages, but they also require larger, specialized fuel tanks to give them range capabilities on par with diesel or gasoline trucks. To address these weight issues, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration issued a memorandum in Q&A format to publish revised guidance notes on weight provisions for natural gas powered trucks.
"Information: Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) Truck Size and Weight Provisions" was updated April 6 and includes several clarifications of importance for the natural gas fueled transportation sector, two of which are listed below:
• A Natural Gas Vehicle, if operated by an engine fueled primarily by natural gas, may exceed any vehicle weight limit (up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 82,000 pounds) under 23 U.S.C. 127 by an amount that is equal to the difference between (1) the weight of the vehicle attributable to the natural gas tank and fueling system carried by that vehicle and (2) the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system.
• Every state must allow up to 2,000 additional pounds for any legal natural gas vehicle traveling on the Interstate Highway System and within reasonable access to the Interstate. The additional weight allowance is the difference between (1) the weight of the vehicle attributable to the natural gas tank and fueling system carried by that vehicle, and (2) the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system, up to a maximum GVW of 82,000 pounds.
“The revised guidance is an important step in providing assurances to truckers that they will be able to legally operate natural gas trucks without a reduction in payload, an important consideration for fleets that operate near or at full load,” said Jeff Clarke, general counsel and director, regulatory affairs, for NGVAmerica. "It also should assist efforts in getting more states to open up all their roads, not just the interstate roads, to natural gas trucks.”
More information concerning FHWA specifications for Vehicle Size and Weight on natural gas trucks can be found at: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/index.htm.