Thursday, April 19, 2018

Twin-33 proponents back out of including supporting language in appropriations bill

Friday, July 21, 2017
by LYNDON FINNEY/The Trucker Staff

FedEx is a strong proponent of 33-foot twin trailers. The company now moves much of its freight on twin 28s, the longest tandem trailer currently allowed on U.S. highways. (Courtesy: FEDEX)
FedEx is a strong proponent of 33-foot twin trailers. The company now moves much of its freight on twin 28s, the longest tandem trailer currently allowed on U.S. highways. (Courtesy: FEDEX)

WASHINGTON — Supporters of twin-33 tandem trailers reportedly were ready to include language to allow the longer trailers on U.S. highways in the FY2018 Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill during a markup session July 17, but backed out.

Sources told The Trucker that Rep. Chuck Fleishmann, R-Tenn., was to offer the language.

Fleishmann’s office did not respond to an e-mail inquiry asking whether he would introduce the language as part of another bill or introduce a stand-alone bill.

Tennessee is the home state of FedEx, one of the most vocal proponents of the longer trailers, but Fleishmann does not represent the district the includes Memphis, the location of FedEx headquarters.

The Truckload Carriers Association, an opponent of the longer trailers, on July 14 sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee restating its stance on the issue, calling it a “very controversial topic that has significantly divided the trucking industry.”

In an e-mail that included a copy of the letter, the association encouraged member companies to call their representatives and express their concerns with, and opposition to, twin 33s.

“TCA is the only national trade association whose sole focus is the truckload segment of the trucking industry,” the letter said. “As a major part of an industry consisting of over 524,000 companies operating millions of power units within the United States, the TCA and its trucking-company members remain consistently focused on issues that could have a dramatic effect on the freight transportation methods currently practiced on our interstates.”

In the letter, TCA President John Lyboldt said the proposed mandate, which he said overrides the rights of states, would allow the supply chain to force truckload carriers to switch from single 53-foot trailers to double 33-foot trailers, due to their increased cubic capacity. There are more effective ways to meaningfully improve industry productivity, the letter stated.

“As the trucking industry continues to support America through its commitment to deliver freight and provide jobs to citizens nationwide, TCA urges you to oppose the twin 33-foot trailer configuration and to find a freight productivity solution that will help to support all segments of an industry that has proven to be the backbone of the U.S. economy.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also opposes the longer trailers as does the Trucking Alliance, an organization that includes Cargo Transporters, Dupre, KLLM, Knight Transportation, Maverick Transportation, U.S. Xpress and Swift Transportation.

"These 91-feet-long double tractor-trailers are largely untested on U.S. highways and the Senate's bipartisan vote will hopefully send a message that allowing these double trailers unconditionally would be to the detriment of the public, truck drivers, and smaller trucking companies,” Trucking Alliance Steve Williams said in November 2015 after the full Senate defeated an amendment to the transportation funding bill that would have required states to allow trucks with two 33-foot trailers on their highways.

The American Trucking Associations is neutral on the issue.



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