Safe Routes Act would allow logging vehicles on interstate

Proponents of the bi-partisan sponsored legislation quote study and safety benefits

MADISON, Wis. -- Timber industry associations are pushing to draw support for legislation that would allow log trucks to use the federal interstate highway system to bypass local roads and highways on trips of 150 miles or less.

The Forest Resources Association (FRA) says that the bill, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay), will improve highway safety by diverting trips that would otherwise occur on two-lane highways or through cities and towns.

The bill (HR 2453) has bi-partisan support, with 10 Republican and five Democratic congressmen signed on as sponsors. The FRA and the American Loggers Council (ALC) are seeking more Democratic sponsors for the bill.

They cite an alternate routes study conducted by the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (conducted near the path of Interstate 20 across Georgia) that suggests that the number of intersections a truck would pass through could decrease by more than 90 percent, reducing accident risk. There was a 12 percent reduction in fuel consumption and in carbon dioxide exhaust, according to the study.

Companion legislation has been introduced by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in the U.S. Senate. The legislation adds logging trucks traveling less than 150 miles to other vehicles that are granted a waiver for weight limits on the interstate system.

“Preventing fatal log truck collisions is a high priority in our industry and our communities,” said ALC Executive Vice President Daniel Dructor. “One proven solution is to give log trucks the option of using federal interstates on short hauls, where they can be routed away from schools, crosswalks, city intersections, railroad tracks, and other challenges. A few individual states have received exemptions that lifted federal truck weight limits on interstates, and in each case it resulted in fewer collisions, reduced driver fatigue and improved equipment safety.”

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