COLUMBUS — A proposal to raise the weight limit for trucks is backed by Ohio’s transportation chief as economically beneficial, but it has opposition from trucking and other officials concerned about safety and roadway deterioration.
The measure would raise the maximum weight from 80,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds for trucks on state highways in Ohio, allowing them to haul more at a time, The Plain Dealer reported. The lower limit would remain in effect for local routes and interstate highways in Ohio.
Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray testified in support of the amendment to the proposed state transportation budget before an Ohio Senate panel last week.
Wray told senators it would benefit the economy and didn’t raise safety concerns. He said the change was requested by Republican state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann of Napoleon.
Wachtmann acknowledged it might benefit his businesses, including bottled water delivery, but said it will increase efficiency as haulers cope with higher prices for diesel fuel.
A coalition that includes associations representing police chiefs, self-employed truck drivers, motorists and county engineers contends the change would hinder safety, accelerate damage to roads and other infrastructure.
In Senate panel testimony, trucker Andrew Young of North Ridgeville said the added weight will affect trucks’ “mobility, stability and maneuverability.”
The ability to haul more weight would benefit the companies shipping and receiving goods but not truckers, who will have more costs for fuel and wear on vehicles, he said.
Senators on the committee questioned whether the heavier trucks would avoid local routes and cause more damage at rail crossings. Democratic Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland sought proof of the potential benefit for the state.
Wray said it made economic sense, but said there was no study to offer proof.
Clyde Police Chief Bruce Gower, a board member for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, called the proposed change “irresponsible.”
“For those of us whose job is to protect the public, it is clear that this bill is nothing more than a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said. “It has got to be stopped.”