For seventeen years, members of the American Loggers Council have been making trips to Washington, DC, promoting the idea that trucks hauling state legal weight limits for agricultural commodities, including unrefined forest products, should be allowed to access the Federal Interstate Highway System, and for seventeen years, this common-sense approach to standardizing weight limits within state boundaries has gone unnoticed, until now!
On July 24, 2014, Congressman Steve Southerland from Florida introduced the Right To Haul Act of 2014, H.R. 5201, that if passed would do just that, allow these loads access to the Interstate Highway System as long as they do not exceed individual State weight limitations.
The language is simple, “…individual State weight limitations for an agricultural commodity that are applicable to State highways shall be applicable to the Interstate System within the State’s borders for vehicles carrying an agricultural commodity.”
An agricultural commodity in the Bill is defined as, “…any agricultural commodity (including horticulture, aquaculture, and floriculture), food feed fiber, forestry products, livestock (including elk, reindeer, bison, horses, or deer), or insects and any product thereof.”
What does this mean for the logging industry? Several things. First, you will now be able to transport your state legal roads on a safer and more efficient route to the mill or processing facility, avoiding the intersections in town and communities where vehicle and pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur. Second, your loads will be hauled on infrastructure that is oftentimes much better than the secondary roads found in the state and county, and third, when you travel through a weight station along the Interstate, as long as you meet the state legal requirements of the state you are hauling in, you will not be fined for an overweight load.
There are many states that already have in place weight tolerances for agricultural commodities, and allowing those loads on the Federal Interstate Highway System helps to standardize state and federal policies and improves the overall safety to the general motoring public. One key element of the Bill is that it does not require the States to change their existing regulations. This has been a deterrent of other attempts to change weight limits on the Interstate as oftentimes the States and Counties simply do not have the available funds to bring secondary roads up to the level where they can support heavier loads. You might get a bill that allows 97,000 pounds on the Interstate, but the question remains, how do you get it there?
We thank Congressman Southerland for introducing the Right to Haul Act of 2014 and request that you seek the support of your members of Congress in seeing that H .R. 5201 is passed in both the House and the Senate. It just make sense!
Danny Dructor is the Executive Vice-President of the American Loggers Council. The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.