Regulation focus

25 April 2008

The education sessions and committee meetings held during the three-day symposium were well attended, especially those addressing permitting and regulatory uniformity issues. “We were very pleased with the interest in the topics covered and the willingness on the part of the transportation officials who attended to listen to our members' concerns and understand first hand what they face in terms of running their businesses,” said Doug Ball, vice president of SC&RA. “We were pleased with the dialog and the concern shown regarding these issues.”

Much of the discussion regarding regulation uniformity centred on a recent change in policy in the state of California to allow up to 60,000 pounds (27 tonnes) of bonus weight on a qualifying tridem axle group.

News of the California policy change was greeted with enthusiasm, with SC&RA chairman Jim White commenting, “I didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.”

SC&RA and other organizations have been requesting that California and other states with differing heavy haul policies bring their regulations in line so that heavy haulers can travel from state to state without having to re-rig their loads or, in some cases, change the mode of transport altogether.

The lack of uniformity forces motor carriers in the US to make arrangements to transfer loads to different configurations to complete their movement of goods, wasting money and time, Ball said. “It is not an efficient utilization of equipment and resources.”

To qualify for the bonus 60,000 pound weight on certain routes in California, a tridem group must meet the conditions outlined below.

• Be no closer than 25 feet (7.62 m) from the centre of the last axle to the centre of the first axle, to the next tridem axle group.

• Be inspected laden if it contains a mechanical distribution unit.

• Not be close coupled.

• Measure no less than 8 feet(2.44 m) and no more than 10 feet (3 m) from the centre of the first axle to the centre of the last axle in the group.

• Have a minimum width of eight feet at the outside edge of the tyre bulge.

• Not contain more than two bonus weight tridems per vehicle combination.

• Not be a crane.

For years SC&RA has worked with officials from California, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio and Arizona, requesting that they increase the allowable weight loads on tridem axles for routine permit issuance. “While this was a long time coming, we never lost focus and always presented our position in a consistent and professional manner,” said Ball. “These significant changes are a result of continuing efforts by industry and state officials to address increasingly difficult transportation realities. SC&RA - with partnerships, alliances and member efforts - is effecting change to meet industry needs.”

Another hot topic at the symposium was the increasingly complex process of permitting. In the last few years smaller cities, counties and townships in the US have started to demand “a piece of the permitting pie.” Some of the transport presenters told tales of having to obtain 20 to 30 different permits for routine heavy hauls. The process has become cumbersome and costly. •

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