Barletta Recognized for Long Battle against Heavier Trucks
Rep. Barletta accepts an award from the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks for his fight against a truck weight limit increase.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today accepted an award from the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) for his work to defeat an amendment to the Highway Bill that would have dramatically increased the weight limit on trucks. Barletta was instrumental in killing the proposal from Rep. Reid Ribble (WI-8) that would have increased the weight limit by 14 percent, from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds. He received the recognition at a ceremony in Harrisburg hosted by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
“I have four daughters and three grandchildren – I don’t like the thought of them being out on the roads with heavier and heavier trucks driving around,” Barletta said. “Local roads were not built to handle the increased weight, and heavier trucks would pose a greater danger to their drivers and other motorists. Additionally, trucks don’t just stay on the interstates – they use the local roads to make local deliveries, and that can cause safety concerns and severe road and bridge damage.”
The CABT is a leading voice in opposing more dangerous trucks, and is a national, nonprofit grassroots organization that advocates for highway safety and sound transportation policies. The coalition is comprised of law enforcement officers, emergency responders, safety leaders, engineers, independent truck drivers, and elected officials.
In 2012, Barletta co-authored a bipartisan amendment to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act to prevent an increase in truck size and weight limits while the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted a three-year study to provide Congress the information necessary to consider a federal policy decision that has state and local impacts. The study was concluded in 2015 and found that no increase in weight limit was appropriate because the data was insufficient. In addition, local road impact was not even considered during the study.
Tests conducted by the DOT found that crash rates were 47 percent higher for 91,000 pound vehicles versus 80,000 pound vehicles. Their study found that allowing 91,000-pound trucks would require 4,800 Interstate and other National Highway System bridges to be posted, reinforced, or replaced, incurring an additional $1.1 billion in bridge costs. This figure does not include impact to local bridges or roads, meaning a weight increase would represent a massive unfunded mandate on localities for road and bridge repair.
“Pennsylvania still has the second-most structurally deficient bridges of all the states, with about 5,000 bridges that are in serious disrepair,” Barletta said. “I grew up in the road construction business and then had to balance the books as Mayor of Hazleton, so I know that there's a big difference between a local road that has a couple of inches of asphalt and an interstate that has a foot of concrete. Local communities cannot afford and do not want the increased costs of heavier trucks on our roads and bridges. They are less safe, and many trucking company drivers do not want to take on the risk of these dangerous vehicles.”
Represented at the award ceremony were the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Borough of Carlisle Borough, the Dallas Township Board of Supervisors, the Wyoming County Commissioners, the Borough of Tunkhannock, The Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.
“Not only are heavier trucks more dangerous, they will worsen the infamous Pennsylvania potholes that already cause their own crashes,” said Robert Jolley, President of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and Chief of the Dallas Township Police Department. “It’s only a matter of time until the truck drivers begin using more local roads. That will be like opening a Pandora’s Box of increased safety concerns and infrastructure damage.”
“We generally have to repave a road every 15 to 20 years but with so many more trucks coming through town, if Congress did ever approve heavier trucks, we would have to repave at least 5 years sooner than that,” said Mayor Tim Scott of Carlisle. “The current truck traffic we experience also has a negative effect on our gas, sewer, and water systems which directly underlay our streets. We are conducting a study on the inflow and infiltration of our sewers, which is uncovering results that point to the negative impact of both weight and vibration on our system. Trucks at 80,000 pounds are damaging enough - trucks at 91,000 pounds would be a recipe for disaster for these vital and fragile public systems. Our thanks to Congressman Barletta - by opposing heavier trucks he has helped us extend the life of our infrastructure.”
“We thank Congressman Barletta for opposing heavier trucks and his continued efforts to keep the residents of Pennsylvania safe while traveling on our roadways,” said David Sanko, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which represents nearly 95 percent of Pennsylvania.