Indiana lawmakers look for compromise on allowing heavier trucks

The Daily Reformer

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers are struggling with a bill that would allow heavier trucks on our roads.

Tuesday morning, a Senate committee decided to hold the bill for another week to comb out more details.

There are some bumps in the road causing lawmakers to hesitate.

“I’m in the position where I’m just getting slaughtered both directions, and it’s a difficult issue,” said State Sen. Michael Crider, Homeland Security and Transportation Committee chair.

It all started several years ago when Indiana lawmakers only allowed some commodities heavier loads.

“It’s one of those where you kind of feel like you are picking winners and losers, and it’s not necessarily where anybody wants to be,” said Sen. Crider.

So, Indiana lawmakers are considering opening overweight permit applications to everyone for a fee. Now, Sen. Crider is drafting an amendment that would phase in heavier weight limits starting at 100,000 pounds and then allow the Indiana Department of Transportation to monitor progress and add more weight later if recommended.

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“All of that was my feeble attempt to try and figure out a way to scale this to remove some of the pushback,” said Crider.

Those opposed are concerned bigger trucks will tear up more roads and put more Hoosiers in danger. With a heavier weight, a truck takes longer to stop and collisions have a stronger impact.

“I’ve had several calls from people asking me not to vote to increase the weight on trucks. I haven’t had a single person call to ask me to increase the weight on trucks,” said State Rep. Tom Saunders.

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Mike Matousek, manager of Government Affairs for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, said many truck drivers agree.

“They know how these trucks operate. They know that it takes a little bit longer to stop,” explained Matousek.

However, the data on all of this is mixed. That’s why some suggest more time to study the issue.

“Would it hurt if we just had a summer here to really talk about this with facts, actual facts and figures?” asked State Sen. Jim Tomes.

Crider didn’t entertain that idea, but he is holding the bill for another week to perfect his amendment.

“This has been something I’ve struggled with and tried to be as fair as I could possibly be, and I really am stuck on this particular bill,” said Crider.

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We will continue following this legislation as it moves through the process.

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