Big Rig-amarole

Leave it to some of the incompetents in Washington to do the opposite of what’s logical. We keep hearing about the “crumbling roads and bridges” throughout the country, and how urgent it is to allocate billions of dollars toward the repair and upgrading of the nation’s “infrastructure”. The constant complaint from transportation authorities is that congestion, pollution and the wear-and-tear on our over-burdened highways is being caused by the use of too many heavy trucks delivering imported goods to end users many miles distant from the country’s half-dozen or so “king-ports”. Sounds like those trucks might be too heavy, right? Some of the anointed ones in Congress don’t seem to think so. Here’s what came out of Washington CNN yesterday:

“New transportation bill creates safety concerns over bigger rigs – Could tractor-trailer rigs almost as long as Boeing 737s be driving on a highway near you? If a new transportation bill proposed by House Republicans passes, the answer is yes, and the safety ramifications would be astronomical, say congressional opponents of the bill and the AAA Auto Club.

“The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act introduced Tuesday by Republicans would authorize about $ 260 billion over five years to fund federal highway programs. The legislation also contains a controversial provision allowing heavier tractor-trailer trucks on highways by increasing the federal weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. In some cases, it would allow 126,000-pound trucks onto highways. The legislation also allows the largest rigs, which comprise two and sometimes three trailers, to be as much as 10 feet longer – a total length of more than 100 feet …

“‘If there was ever a recipe for disaster, this is it,’ said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation. ‘We all value the importance of trucks to our economy, to our recovery … but trucks have to share the roads with our families, and that’s why we’re never going to let trucks take a priority over the well-being of our families.’…

“Besides safety issues, opponents also say bigger trucks would put further stress on already deteriorating roads and bridges.

“‘At a time when we are seriously under-investing in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, allowing bigger and heavier trucks on our roads and bridges is a step in the wrong direction,’ said Jill Ingrassia, AAA managing director of government relations and traffic safety advocacy.

“The bill is heading for a hearing in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, and Rep. James McGovern, D-Massachusetts, a member of the committee, said he will use everything in his power, including working with the Senate and the Obama administration, to get this provision taken out of the bill. ‘I feel confident we’re going to prevail here … we’re here to tell the leadership of the House that we’re raring for a fight,’ McGovern said. ‘This is a serious issue.'” –

[Short Sea Shipping, anyone?]