Ask Indianapolis to put the brakes on bigger trucks! (IN)

They're at it again. Companies that ship heavy products are always pushing for higher truck weight limits or exceptions for their company or their product to violate the weight limits put in place to protect roads and bridges.

This time, it's about overweight trucks hauling masonry products in Indiana. The Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation will hear testimony on September 18 on why masonry shippers think they deserve special treatment. 

Increasing truck weight increases the pounding roads and bridges take from truck travel. The additional weight wears out pavements quicker and adds to bridge stress when many of our roads and bridges are already in dire need of improvement.

Adding insult to injury, heavy trucks on the road today do not pay for their full share of road and bridge damage. In fact, the most recent federal study to look at the issue showed that the federal government already subsidizes heavy truck operations $1.9 billion every year. 

Heavier trucks would cover even less of their costs, which would increase the subsidy to heavy trucks and could divert freight from other modes onto highways. This would mean even more freight on already crowded roads and highways at a time when we're not keeping up with existing infrastructure funding needs. Plus, every ton diverted from rail means greater fuel consumption and even greater emissions. 

The U.S. House of Representatives rejected 91,000-pound trucks in a bipartisan vote in 2015. The U.S. DOT refused to endorse increases in truck size or weight in 2016. Our state legislators in Indianapolis should do the same.

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Ask Congress to Rein in the STB (All States)

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) has announced a plan to impose a series of new regulations on freight railroads.

The new rules would undermine today's balanced regulatory framework that enables railroads to earn enough capital to reinvest back into their infrastructure and operations. This framework was established by the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, legislation that brought freight railroads back to financial health and stability after years of federal over-regulation.

Among the agency’s proposed changes, railroads would be required to let competitors use their lines — potentially at below-market rates. This “forced access" proposal is not only at odds with a market-based system, it would compromise the efficiency of the nation’s rail network.

The stakes for the STB’s proposals are significant not just for railroads, but also for the consumers, manufacturers, farmers, ports and others from coast to coast that rely on trains. If passed, the changes would create service problems across the 140,000-mile rail network, jeopardizing everything from energy transportation to passenger rail service.

Freight railroads are leaders in terms of private spending, reinvesting at six times the rate of the average manufacturer back into their network. It would be a costly mistake to stifle this level of investment at a time when railroads are enhancing and expanding their lines to meet the needs of a growing economy.

You can read more about these proposals in GoRail’s issue brief.

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