Friday, August 22, 2008

Just the beginning

So the ATA wants bigger, heavier trucks. What’s the big deal? What makes those trucks any different than our regular, 53-foot, 80,000-pound rigs?

We got a wake-up call about a year ago that spelled it out – the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

While I hesitate to ever say that trucks were involved in something like this, the incredibly heavy trucks parked on the bridge during construction may have played some role in the event.

Our infrastructure is designed with an 80,000 pound truck in mind.

We have a system for dealing with the occasional load that’s larger – we permit them, we often have special routes for them, and we have a bridge formula that’s specifically designed to deal with them in a way that protects our roads and bridges.

You know, since we’re here in Missouri, I wanted to check that state’s regulations for how and why they permit heavier loads. And I found something very interesting indeed.

It says this: “Economic factors in either the saving of time or costs for routing will not be considered of primary importance in the routing process and the department reserves the right to designate routing and travel time for all movements.”

So what does that mean in English? Just because it costs the carrier less doesn’t mean the state has to let them do what they want with a larger, heavier load. The state has the right to route and set times for the load that protect safety and the integrity of the road.

The bigger carriers and their shipper and receiver allies want to stop this system and let those 97,000 pound trucks roll as a matter of regular routine.

So what happens if we throw that all out and just let these suckers loose on our roads?

I shudder to think. Minneapolis could be just the beginning. And that is a scary thought indeed.