In the late hours on Monday night, the Georgia House approved higher truck weight limits. The bill now crosses over to the senate for consideration.
Monday, March 6, was Crossover Day for 2023. This is generally the last day of session for bills to pass out of their original chamber and still have a chance to become law this year.
Higher Truck Weight Limits
Presently, Georgia allows tractor-trailers to weigh up to 80,000 pounds with a 5% variance for certain commodities. This variance results in an 84,000-pound limit. The proposal, House Bill 189, would increase the limit to allow a 10% variance. This would effectively raise the maximum weight to 88,000 pounds for certain uses.
An executive order in effect by Governor Kemp since the start of the pandemic has allowed truck weights up to 95,000 pounds. This executive order will soon expire on Saturday, March 11. As such, the weight limits will revert back to 84,000 pounds if there are no changes passed by the general assembly.
Earlier versions of the bill would have increased the limit to 90,000 pounds for all uses. The house transportation committee held several lengthy committee meetings to discuss the bill. As a result, the most recent substitute has the 88,000 pound limit for certain uses. House Bill 189 passed the state house by a vote of 93 to 81.
The uses eligible for the weight variance are generally agriculture, logging or mining trucks. Some examples include poultry or cattle feed, timber, granite, concrete or solid waste. The bill does not change which uses can receive the current weight variance.
The state senate will now consider the bill. If they make any changes, then the house would reconsider the item. This year’s legislative session ends on March 29.
Support & Opposition
Representatives from the logging and trucking industries are in support of the bill. Small business owners testified before the state house transportation committee the proposed increase would allow them to move more product per truck load, thus increasing profit margins and reducing the number of truck trips. A logging truck owner from Butts County told the committee the 95,000 pound executive order has saved their business by allowing them to update equipment and hire more drivers.
Georgia DOT, the Association for County Commissioners and Georgia Municipal Association are opposed to the measure. This is due to concerns about additional wear & tear on roads and bridges. Presently, about 1,400 bridges in Georgia have a posted load limit. This means the bridge cannot support a fully loaded 80,000 tractor-trailer. If HB 189 passes, then another 1,200 bridges would require posting across the state. The posted bridges limit route options and cause detours for trucks weighing 88,000 pounds to safely traverse the state.
Henry County commissioners adopted a resolution in opposition to HB 189 at their February 21 board meeting.
Featured image shows a tractor-trailer on highway 155 in Luella. Clayton Carte photo.
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