Mar 30, 2023 - News

Legislature OKs 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

Commercial trucks hauling logs and crops can carry heavier loads under new legislation approved on Sine Die.

Driving the news: In the final moments of the 2023 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly narrowly OK-ed a bill allowing Georgia's forestry and agriculture industries to pack more products on their trucks.

Why it matters: The wonky years-long battle pitted Georgia's biggest industries against the state Department of Transportation and local governments. It sparked a larger debate over infrastructure spending and the ripple effects of easing regulations.

Catch up quick: In March 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order increasing the truck weight limit to 95,000 pounds to keep supply chains moving during the pandemic.

  • That executive order expired in February and weight limits rolled back to the 80,000-pound limit on the books.

What happened: Just after midnight, the House and Senate approved a compromise increasing the limit to 88,000 pounds for trucks hauling forestry and agriculture products for two years.

  • The legislation also gives local law enforcement the authority to enforce the regulations during that time period.

Yes, but: The 80,000-pound maximum still applies for roads in metro Atlanta. Federal interstates already prohibit trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds.

Zoom out: Industry representatives have argued that their trucks need to carry heavier loads to stay competitive with surrounding states and keep up with higher fuel costs, inflation and tight labor markets.

The other side: Opponents said heavier trucks would endanger lives and cause billions of dollars in damage to local roads.

  • 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.

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