The Kentucky General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday night to a bill that will allow more overweight trucks on Kentucky roads.
House Bill 184, sponsored by Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Rockfield, would let trucks weighing 80,000 pounds and carrying any metal commodity be heavier by 50 percent — or 40,000 pounds. A metal commodity is defined as the product of any metal-producing industry being taken from a mill or storage site to a market for processing.
DeCesare said the measure is primarily to put the aluminum industry on par with the steel industry.
John-Mark Hack, head of the state motor vehicle regulation department, said the measure is supported by Gov. Matt Bevin.
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Early in the day, the Senate Transportation Committee made a few changes in the House bill. It was approved by the full Senate Wednesday evening and won final approval in the House on a 62-29 vote just before 11 p.m. It now goes to Bevin for his approval or veto.
Transportation Chairman Ernie Harris, R-Harris, said the permit fee for overweight metal commodity hauling will be raised from $250 a year to $1,250 a year, and a permit fee for a one-time hauling will cost $100.
Also, Harris said, the bill will expire in 2020. He said he wants lawmakers to study before then the issue of overweight trucks and their impact on roads and other modes of transportation.
Fred Mudge, board chairman for R.J. Corman, a railroad company in Nicholasville, spoke against the bill, saying he was concerned about its effect on railroads’ competitiveness, and safety on public roads with heavier trucks.
Mudge said he was pleased that lawmakers plan to study the issue.
Earlier this year, Bevin signed into law HB 174, giving a “10 percent weight tolerance” to trucks carrying poultry and chicken feed. That means they now can travel on the road with an extra four tons.
Adding just 10 percent to a big rig’s overall tonnage increases by 33 percent the amount of damage that it can be expected to inflict on a bridge, according to Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, a group that lobbies for stronger traffic safety laws.
Federal regulators say there were 3,598 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2015, the most in seven years, killing 4,067 people. Kentucky had 76 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2015, killing 81 people.