WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives has passed a bill introduced by Reps. Tom Petri, R-Wis., and Reid Ribble, R-Wis., both members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to ensure that trucks exceeding 80,000 pounds currently using U.S. Highway 41 in Wisconsin will continue to be able to operate on it once the road becomes an Interstate, which is likely to occur early next year.
“I’m pleased we were able to move this important legislation along so that trucks currently using the road can continue to use it once it becomes a part of the interstate system,” said Petri, who is the chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee. “And I’m glad that we have the bipartisan cooperation of the Wisconsin delegation and our two Senators.”
Petri said Highway 41 was a huge part of regional economy and millions of dollars in commerce depend on it as a fully-functioning road.
“This proposal does not expand truck weights, but simply preserves the status quo so that current commerce is not disrupted,” he said.
“I am pleased that we are one step closer to signing this bill into law,” said Ribble. “Highway 41 is an important thoroughfare for the entire state, and this legislation will not only keep the highway safe and secure for all its users, it will also ensure local manufacturers and businesses will not see any disruption in their shipping routes, providing much-needed certainty to the local economy. I look forward to supporting the efforts of Senators Baldwin and Johnson to move quickly on our legislation.”
Under federal law, trucks over 80,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight cannot operate on Interstate highways.
Many have raised concerns that this federal weight limit would harm the local economy in Wisconsin and pose safety risks for communities because oversized trucks would be forced to use local roadways, the lawmakers said.
Petri’s and Ribble’s bill would grandfather in currently-operating trucks when Highway 41 is designated as part of the Interstate Highway System. Similar provisions have been enacted for Interstate highway designations, such as I-39 in Wisconsin and I-99 in Pennsylvania.
Highway 41 is the main thorough way through central Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Twenty-three percent of the state’s manufacturing, retail, and wholesale businesses are located along Highway 41, and the highway is responsible for generating 29% of Wisconsin’s tourism dollars.
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