Topic loading trucks for multiple bills in the Wisconsin Senate
Several bills moving through the Wisconsin Senate are touted to help reduce the number of trucks on the roads in exchange for allowing some heavier truck loads.
The Senate Transportation and Local Government Committee approved a bill covering permits for the transportation of excess weight of iron ore.
Sponsored by Sen. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, SB363 would create a definition of metallic or non-metallic scrap identical to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s definition of recyclable scrap, except that the new definition would explicitly include iron ore.
Ballwig described iron ore as a raw material that supports the use of scrap iron and steel to produce new iron and steel products.
She told committee members that her bill would allow iron ore to be transported by truck using the state Department of Transportation’s trash, waste and recyclable scrap permit, which allows trucks to carry overweight loads.
Until recently, carriers were able to transport iron ore under the aforementioned permit, but WisDOT has begun enforcing its interpretation that iron ore cannot be transported using that permit, Ballweg added. She said the changes would allow the metal casting industry and its conveyors to continue transporting iron ore at the weights they did previously.
“This will reduce the number of trucks on the road and reduce transportation costs,” Ballweg testified.
To ensure that federal funding is not affected, she amended the bill in committee to specify that the heavy truck load permit would not apply to highways designated as part of the National Interstate and Defense Highway System.
According to a fiscal analysis attached to the bill, the state Department of Transportation assumes that increased heavy truck traffic will lead to “increased pavement and structural deterioration.” The agency stated that the costs associated with maintenance and repair resulting from heavy truck loads cannot be adequately estimated.
Another bill introduced by the Senate Transportation Committee covers the transportation of liquid dairy products, including whey.
As Ballweg also submitted, SB431 would allow WisDOT to issue consecutive monthly or annual permits for truckloads transporting liquid dairy products between processing facilities in vehicle combinations that exceed general highway weight limits. The bill would allow permits to operate affected vehicles weighing up to 18,000 pounds in excess of the gross vehicle weight limit of 80,000 pounds.
SB431 would also prevent the Department of Transportation from imposing different conditions for these permits for different liquid dairy products. The draft law defines liquid milk products as raw milk, liquid dairy products and their by-products, including liquid whey and whey by-products.
“Whey has long been used as animal feed and fertilizer, but today, the bulk of whey is processed for sale as protein powder and other value-added dairy ingredients,” Ballweg noted.
She touted the change as allowing Wisconsin’s dairy industry to compete against other states that allow higher weight limits for dairy products.
The bill’s fiscal analysis echoed that of SB363. Additionally, the DOT analysis said that without a definition of what all would be considered “dairy products,” the agency could not estimate what types of goods might be transported or calculate how many types of cargo might be affected.
Both SB363 and SB431 are awaiting consideration on the Senate floor. If approved, the draft laws will be submitted to the Assembly.
Another bill still in the Senate Transportation Committee covers certain oversized and overweight truckloads that transport forest products.
Currently, WisDOT may issue an annual or consecutive monthly permit for an oversized or overweight vehicle to move loads within 11 miles of the Wisconsin-Michigan line. Affected truck loads are limited to specifically designated highways, if the vehicle does not violate length or weight restrictions under Michigan law.
Sponsored by Sen. Cory Tomczyk, R-Mosinee, SB484 would add 10 segments of highway to Michigan’s border permit. A list of affected highway segments is available.
Tomshick told the committee that the roads had sufficient structural and safety facilities to allow the affected trucks to operate without causing serious damage or safety risks.
“With the addition of new roads to Michigan’s border permit, this legislation reduces the total number of miles traveled by vehicles; Increases fuel efficiency, resulting in lower emissions; It provides significant cost savings to shippers and end-use consumers. LL