Jan 31, 2023 - News

Georgia industries want higher weight limits on commercial trucks

Illustration of an anvil with tires like a 5-axle truck driving down the street, cracking the pavement.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Georgia companies that use big commercial trucks and the local governments who maintain roads are facing off yet again over the amount of weight those trucks can haul.

Why it matters: The seemingly annual — and very wonky — battle at the Georgia Capitol has big effects on infrastructure, safety and the finances of some of Georgia’s biggest employers.

What's happening: Georgia's forestry, concrete, poultry and other members of the state's largest industries plan to ask the state to allow commercial trucks to weigh up to 90,000 pounds on state roads.

  • That's up from the current 80,000-pound limit on the books. Industries cite higher fuel costs, inflation and tight labor markets.

Of note: The federal government prohibits trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds from traveling on the interstate, which means heavier trucks have to stick to local roads.

State of play: In March 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order allowing trucks to haul up to 95,000 pounds to keep supply chains moving during the pandemic. That executive order sunsets on Feb. 9.

  • Without an extension or new legislation, industry officials told Axios, Georgia would have the lowest weight limits in the South, putting companies at a competitive disadvantage with other states.

Zoom out: The issue doesn't just affect rural areas. The Atlanta City Council recently approved a resolution urging the state and federal government not to bump up truck weight limits.

Yes, but: City and county governments maintain roughly 80% of roads in Georgia and more than 8,000 bridges, Kathleen Bowen of ACCG, an association that represents counties at the Capitol, told Axios.

  • 90,000 pounds is nearly double the weight that most county roads can accommodate, she says, and the increased wear and tear and extra strain on bridges increase maintenance costs and shortens their lifespans.

The other side: If trucks can pull more weight, the industry argues, they'll have fewer trucks on the road.

  • The forestry industry could reduce the number of miles traveled on roads and bridges by 20 million miles a year, officials say.

What's next: Legislation is imminent.


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