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4 northern Idaho routes could get bigger trucks

The Associated Press


BOISE, Idaho — Four northern Idaho routes designated as appropriate for extra-long trucks will likely be considered as potential routes for extra-heavy trucks as well.

The Spokesman-Review reports (http://bit.ly/ZRIHm1 ) in a story published Thursday that U.S. highways 95 and 2, and state highways 41 and 53 already have the extra-long designation.

"I think the primary thing is the way the roads are built in North Idah Can they handle the weight?" said Jim Coleman, the Panhandle member of the state transportation board. "I think you have to evaluate them on a case-by-case basis."

The Idaho Transportation Department is creating a committee to review the new law aiming to allow more large trucks on Idaho's highways. The law requires ITD to set rules procedures before new routes can be designated for trucks that weigh between 105,500 and 129,000 pounds.

Timber companies fought for allowing bigger shipments, saying it will help their businesses. Foes fear allowing larger trucks on highways will make roads more dangerous, especially in mountainous northern Idaho.

The new law will allow trucks up to 129,000 pounds anywhere the roads can handle them. The current limit is 105,500 pounds. The bill excludes 35 southern Idaho routes that are part of a 10-year-pilot project where heavier tractor-trailers are allowed already.

"We don't have the kind of roads up here that they have in the south," said Rep. Cindy Agidius, R-Moscow.

Lawmakers in the last session approved the new law despite concerns that northern Idaho roads might have problems with the heavier loads, and that perhaps a pilot project such as the one in southern Idaho might be in order. But lawmakers decided they didn't want the delay of a pilot project.

The new potential rules will be given to lawmakers for approval at the 2014 legislative session.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said he won't approve new truck rules unless local conditions and concerns through public hearings are considered.

"It really is an issue that the general public has concerns about and wants to weigh in, as do local officials at the city and county level," said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint.

The new law also applies to local roads. However, amendments to the law gave local road jurisdictions the choice of whether to issue permits.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com


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