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Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 7:03am

Loggers Want Heavier Trucks

Logging trucks on Georgia’s state and local roads could soon be two tons heavier.

Lawmakers will consider a bill when the General Assembly convenes in January to increase the weight limit for trucks hauling forest products or poultry.

The weight limit for trucks in Georgia is 80,000 pounds, but some loads – including timber, poultry, feed and granite – are allowed an extra 4,000 pounds. The bill would boost that exception to 88,000 pounds for loads of timber and poultry that are traveling to a port or within 100 miles of their origin.

The heavier trucks could not travel on interstate highways and would still have to obey posted weight limits on local roads and bridges.

Industry representatives say increasing the limit would ultimately mean fewer trucks on the road.

“Every 13 to 15 loads hauled, we gain a load. That’s one load that won’t be on the road,” said Tommy Carroll, executive director of the Southeastern Wood Producers Association. “We would actually reduce the number of loads hauled. That also reduces fuel usage, emissions, idling.”

But opponents worry about safety and damage to roads.

Among the groups against heavier trucks is AAA and the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks. AAA public policy manager Karen Morgan said the heavier trucks would be more dangerous if they are involved in accidents. And she said the state’s crumbling roads and bridges cannot take the added weight.

“In Georgia, there’s already a large backlog of infrastructure projects and needs and demands, and if we can’t take care of what we have then there’s concern that this will just further damage our failing infrastructure,” Morgan said.

AAA and CABT say heavy trucks pose safety risks because they have higher centers of gravity and stop more slowly.

Carroll and other industry representatives said their trucks’ brakes and other mechanical systems can handle the extra cargo.

In the last two months, both sides have been making their case to the state Department of Transportation, hoping to win over the state’s highest transportation officials.

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