Heavier trucks could hit interstate highways

FRESNO, California

"With the trucks we already have on the roadways, we're very much concerned about breaking distance," said Jacky Parks, president of the Fresno Police Officers Association. The FPOA has partnered with the Coalition against Bigger Trucks to lobby against the bill currently in the House Transportation Committee. They're concerned with a provision that would allow longer double and single-trailer trucks while increasing the truck weight limit from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds.

"When we have our heavy fog seasons, when you're adding 17,000 pounds to a truck, they got to be able to stop that truck during an accident," said Parks. Opponents say the sweeping changes pose a danger to drivers not just on highways but on city streets. But supporters say not so fast. "There's no safety issues involved because we're going to have to add axels, one axel to each unit," said Jim Ganduglia, who owns a trucking company in Southeast Fresno.

Ganduglia says the proposal would improve productivity by reducing truckloads necessary to meet demand. "If we've got a total of 20 million tons to haul and we can do it and put 17,000 pounds more on every truck, there's going to be less trucks," said Ganduglia.

Still, the bill has quite a ways before it makes it to the House floor. Congressman Jim Costa says he wants to work out the safety concerns through the legislative process before he takes a formal position. "We know that commercial transportation is critical for our economy but at the same time we have to have safe methods of transporting those goods," said Costa.

In the meantime, drivers will still be maneuvering through Highway 99 and they'll see trucks with the same weight and length, at least for now.

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