Letter to the Editor: Heavier trucks weigh on Virginia infrastructure
As someone who drives a commercial truck, I see daily the deficiencies in the nation’s highway and bridge system, and how heavy trucks further strain this all-important infrastructure. Nearly 26 percent of the nation’s average daily traffic encounters at least one of the U.S.’s 145,000 deficient bridges every day.
While lawmakers struggle to identify funding to modernize these roads and bridges, Congress is simultaneously considering proposals to allow heavier trucks — counterproductive thinking that would undermine our infrastructure.
Congress is considering raising the federal truck weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds. Similar proposals in recent years have been rejected for a number of reasons, including the adverse implications heavier trucks have on the highway and bridge system.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 91,000-pound trucks alone would negatively impact over 4,800 National Highway System bridges, resulting in a $1.1 billion price tag. This is on top of the $31 billion dollars that the government estimates it would currently cost to rehabilitate structurally deficient bridges nationwide.
This issue is not an abstract Washington fight — the repercussions of heavier trucks will affect all of us in Virginia, where 26 percent of our bridges are considered deficient. Not only do larger trucks inflict much more damage than the average vehicle, they do not pay their fair share of this extensive damage.
The most recent study looking at the issue by the Federal Highway Administration showed that the federal government subsidizes heavy truck operations $1.9 billion annually. If trucks on the road today need to pay an additional 28 cents per gallon of diesel to cover their costs, 91,000-pound trucks would need to pay an additional 70 cents per gallon. In the meantime, every other highway user is subsidizing operations of the most damaging big rigs. It should also be noted that increased fuel costs are passed on to the shippers, who in turn pass it on to consumers.
Congress should reject H.R. 3488 and instead maintain the current weight limit, which will help to preserve our Virginia infrastructure and keep roads safer for us all.
Shayne Ryerson, Front Royal
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