Blumenthal, Wicker Urge Colleagues to Reject Mandate of Unprecedented, Large Trailers on U.S. Highways

Double 33-foot-long trailers could cause horrific damage to the nation’s already crumbling highways

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) yesterday urged their colleagues to oppose any provision that would mandate that states accept double 33-foot-long trailers on all U.S. highways. In a letter to Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Blumenthal and Wicker noted the likelihood that efforts to allow these trailers of unprecedented size onto all U.S. highways would likely be raised in the upcoming FY 2016 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) bill.

We believe the proposed measure on double 33-foot-long trailers could have a negative impact on highway safety, accelerate wear and tear on the nation’s highway system, ignore the laws of many states that prohibit these large trailers, and significantly disrupt the freight industry – possibly even putting some trucking companies out of business,” the Senators wrote. “At a minimum, there has not been sufficient dialogue around this measure to understand its full impact.”

Despite attempts to evaluate the true effect that these trucks would have on our highways, the Senators cited a DOT study from this month that found significant data limitations in its analyses, concluding that “no changes” in the relevant laws and regulations should be considered until these data limitations are overcome.

The Senators also noted that decisions should be left to the committees with jurisdiction over truck size and weight policy, the Senate Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, respectively, which have not yet finished vetting the enormous consequences that could come with such a dramatic change to transportation policy.

Full text of the letter can be viewed here and below:

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed,

We are writing to urge you and your colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to oppose possible language that may come up during the Senate’s consideration of the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill. This language would force states to accept double 33-foot-long trailers on all U.S. highways. We believe that provisions of this nature should first be fully considered in the House and Senate by committees with jurisdiction over this important policy area.

The U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) just this month publicly released its Technical Reports in response to a study mandated in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). USDOT found significant data limitations in its analyses, concluding that “no changes” in the relevant laws and regulations should be considered until these data limitations are overcome.

Moreover, we believe the proposed measure on double 33-foot-long trailers could have a negative impact on highway safety, accelerate wear and tear on the nation’s highway system, ignore the laws of many states that prohibit these large trailers, and significantly disrupt the freight industry – possibly even putting some trucking companies out of business. At a minimum, there has not been sufficient dialogue around this measure to understand its full impact.

Please oppose any legislation with provisions related to nationwide changes in truck size under the jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce Committee and truck weights under the jurisdiction of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

We appreciate your work on the transportation appropriations bill and your efforts to ensure we have a safe transportation network.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate

Roger Wicker
United States Senate