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Recent Press Releases

Nov 01 2011

U.S. SENATE APPROVES SENATOR COLLINS’ PROVISION TO PERMANENTLY ALLOW HEAVIEST TRUCKS ON MAINE’S INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS

Senate includes Sen. Collins’ provision in funding bill that would allow heavier trucks to use Maine’s federal interstates; must now be approved by House

The U.S. Senate today, by a vote of 69-30, approved the Fiscal Year 2012 Senate Transportation Appropriations bill which includes a provision, authored by Senator Susan Collins, that would permanently allow the heaviest trucks to travel on federal interstates in Maine instead of forcing them off the highway and onto Maine’s secondary roads and downtown streets.

While Senator Collins’ provision is included in Senate Transportation funding bill, unfortunately similar language is not included in the House version of this bill. As the senior Republican on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins will continue to fight to ensure her provision is included in the final version of the bill.

Senator Collins has led the effort to allow trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on Maine’s federal interstates –including I-95, 195, 295, and 395. Her provision for Maine is paired with a similar change for Vermont, authored by Senator Patrick Leahy, also a member of the Transportation Subcommittee, who has worked closely with Senator Collins on this issue.

“This is a major step forward in my effort to allow the heaviest trucks to drive on our federal interstates for once and for all,” said Senator Collins. “This has always been one of my top transportation priorities. It would help shippers, truckers, and Maine’s job creators. Most important, it would help Mainers who live, work, and go to school along the secondary roads where these trucks are currently forced to travel. Safety is, and has always been, my top concern. My provision would not increase the size or weight of trucks. Maine law already allows trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to operate on state and municipal roads. But these same trucks are not allowed on the interstates, where it is safer for them to travel.”

Senator Collins’ effort is supported by the Association of Police, the Maine State Police, the State Troopers Association, the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Chiefs of Police, the Maine Motor Transport Association, the Parent Teacher Association, and the Bangor School Department, who have all expressed the importance of safety in getting these heaviest trucks off our local roadways and onto the interstates where they belong.

Currently, the heaviest trucks in Maine are diverted onto secondary roadways that cut through our downtowns on narrow streets, creating a major safety concern. In most of the surrounding New England states and nearby Canadian provinces, the heaviest trucks are free to use the interstates, but not in Maine and Vermont. This puts Maine businesses at a distinct competitive disadvantage. Heavy trucks already operate on some 22,500 miles of non-interstate roads in Maine, in addition to the approximately 167 miles of the Maine Turnpike. But the nearly 260 miles of non-Turnpike interstates that are major economic corridors are off limits.

In 2009, a pilot project that Senator Collins wrote, was included in the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill. This one-year pilot project allowed trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on Maine’s federal interstates. According to the Maine Department of Transportation, during the one-year period covered by the pilot, the number of crashes involving trucks on Maine’s local roads was reduced by 72 compared to a five-year average.

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SAFETY FACT SHEET

• Senator Collins’ provision WOULD NOT INCREASE the size or weight of trucks. Maine law already allows trucks up to 100,000 pounds to operate on state and municipal roads. Heavy trucks already operate on some 22,500 miles of non-interstate roads in Maine, in addition to the approximately 167 miles of the Maine Turnpike. But the nearly 260 miles of non-Turnpike interstates that are major economic corridors are off limits.

• The heaviest trucks are already permitted on many interstates in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and the neighboring Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. This puts Maine businesses at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

• Allowing heavier trucks on the highway would help remove them from secondary roads, and downtowns like Bangor, where they currently travel.

• A truck traveling from Hampden to Houlton on I-95 rather than Route 2 would avoid: 300 intersections, 86 crosswalks, 30 traffic lights, 9 school crossings, and 4 railroad crossing.

• Senator Collins has the support of Maine public safety, business and school groups including: the Maine Association of Police, Maine Chiefs of Police, Maine Department of Public Safety, Bangor Police Department, Bangor School Department, Maine Motor Transport, Maine Pulp and Paper Association, and Professional Logging Contractors.

LINKS TO SUPPORT LETTERS:

Maine Association of Police Support Letter

Maine Chiefs of Police Support Letter

Maine Motor Transport Association Support Letter

Office of the Commissioner (ME Dept. of Public Safety) Support Letter

Maine Pulp and Paper Association Support Letter

Bangor Police Department Support Letter

Bangor School Department Support Letter

Maine Parent Teacher Association Support Letter

Professional Logging Contractors of Maine Support Letter

Maine School Superintendents Association Support Letter

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Support Letter

Governor LePage Support Letter