Director Opposes Bigger Trucks
GRAND RAPIDS — Although the Grand Valley Metro Council did not officially go on record as opposing the bill, the regional planning agency’s executive director urged members to contact their state senators and ask them to stop a piece of House-approved legislation in its very heavy tracks.
Calling the bill a result of the “silly season” — also known as the current lame-duck session in Lansing — Don Stypula told members that HB-4358 emerged from a “full-court press” put on by the state’s trucking and road-building associations.
The bill would amend the Michigan Vehicle Code to allow 65-foot-long tractor-trailers to travel on all Michigan highways.
Today, 65-footers can only run on designated highways, while 59-foot semis are allowed on all highways and truck routes in the state.
Stypula said letting longer 18-wheelers on every highway would lead to bigger trucks traveling on more county roads and city streets once the trailers exited a highway.
Sixty-five footers are currently restricted from traveling on many local roads and streets, but would be able to do so in order to reach their destinations.
A 6-foot longer truck, he said, means a heavier load on those local roads and streets.
The House Fiscal Agency (HFA) reported the bill would also lower the fine for violating the state’s weight-load limit to $250, because it would largely eliminate a court’s discretion to levy a harsher penalty.
Current state law allows a $250 fine to be levied, but it also leaves room for stiffer penalties.
The HFA analysis said, “In many instances this provision would effectively lower the amount of the fine to $250.”
“This would change the allowable truck weights,” said Stypula.
The analysis went on to report the bill would reduce revenue to local jurisdictions due to the smaller proposed fine and that it could affect the state’s ability to certify that Michigan is in compliance with federal rules on vehicle size and weight.
The report also noted that the Federal Highway Administration was reviewing the bill.
The bill has the support of trucking companies and the Michigan Trucking Association. Road builders, like the Michigan Pavement Association and the Michigan Road Builders Association, also are on record as supporting it.
Stypula said the state’s road building industry backs the bill because larger and heavier trucks would break up roads faster and create more work for its members.
All local road projects run through the Metro Council.
Truckers support the legislation because it would allow them to carry more goods on each trip, which could make their businesses more efficient and cut their operating costs.
The Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan State Police, the County Road Association of Michigan, the Michigan Railroad Association and the Michigan Municipal League oppose the bill.
Washtenaw County Republican Gene DeRossett sponsored the bill.
DeRossett, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, is term-limited and is set to leave the House this year. He failed to win his party’s nomination for the state’s 7th Congressional District.