House Bill 2256, which passed 40-20, drops the truck speed limit to 65 mph, 10 miles below the 75 mph currently allowed. In addition, truckers would have to stay in the right two lanes if six-lane freeways are posted by the Arizona Department of Transportation or local governments. The bill had the support of the Arizona Motor Transport Assn. as well as the American Automobile Assn. of Arizona.
Originally, the bill would have forced tractor-trailers and other large vehicles to use the right-hand lane of highways, but it was amended to give the state DOT more flexibility. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Overton, said he did not want to create backups in the right lane.
Rep. Carolyn Allen, who chairs the House Environmental Committee, shelved a bill Tuesday that would require California diesel in some areas of the state. During three hours of testimony, local truckers said they would be forced out of business by the cost of the fuel, which runs 20 cents per gallon more than diesel elsewhere. However, health and environmental officials said the cleaner fuel would only cost an extra 5 cents a gallon.
After the measure was tabled, public interest groups threatened to sue the state for not doing enough to fight air pollution. The groups blame trucking for the Valley's "brown cloud," and were upset by comments from Rep. Mike Gleason that the area's pollution is largely due to stagnant winter weather.
Dave Berry of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation said the solution would be to go after the minority of trucks that are bad polluters.