4.11.15

USE YOUR IMAGINATION.

For the time being, the roads are not going to be made more dangerous by an Act of Congress. Ribble’s bigger trucks crash and burn.  Fortunately, it's a metaphorical crash and burn, as an amendment Wisconsin representative Reid Ribble proposed for the latest surface transportation funding bill to raise the weight limit for trucks failed.  The argument his rent-seeking buddies made is instructive.
The amendment was supported by manufacturers, shippers and trucking companies who said it would make freight shipments more efficient and reduce the number of trucks on the road. Ribble added that trucks leave dairy farms and paper mills in his district half full because they've reached the maximum weight limit.
Put another way, that's a case against 53 foot trailers, which I have long suggested are rolling hazards.  The new speaker of the House, also a Wisconsin Republican, is allowing representatives more latitude to introduce amendments during floor debate, although I doubt that any will look like these.
Special movement permits for any trailer exceeding 40 feet.  Permit fee to be substantially higher if the movement can be by rail over part or all of the trip.  Federal excise tax on retreaded tires.  And some money devoted to improving railroad tracks for faster trains, with the stipulation that the owning railroads be allowed to path intermodal trains at speeds of 90 or 100 mph on those tracks.
At least for now, the sense of Congress -- it takes some Republicans voting against Mr Ribble's amendment to defeat it -- is that on balance, the heavier trucks mean more wear and tear on the roads and more road congestion.  Perhaps there will be something resembling a coherent infrastructure bill, rather than the latest short-term fix for the Highway "Trust" Fund, during this session.

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