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Maine trucker tests merits of increased Interstate weights

HAMPDEN, Me. -- Increasing gross vehicle weight allowances on Maine's I-95 is not only more efficient, bu...

HAMPDEN, Me. — Increasing gross vehicle weight allowances on Maine’s I-95 is not only more efficient, but also safer, according to a logging and trucking contractor who conducted his own test.

As part of a one-year pilot project that began in December, gross vehicle weight limits on Maine’s I-95 were increased from 80,000 lbs to 100,000 lbs, provided tractor-trailer units had a sixth axle.

Brian Bouchard, president and CEO of H.O. Bouchard, loaded two trucks to 99,800 lbs and measured their performance between Hampden and Houlton, Me. over two routes: I-95 and the non-Interstate route where heavier weights were already permitted.

On the 120-mile run, the truck travelling on state highways passed 86 pedestrian crosswalks, 30 street lights, nine school crossings, four hospitals, four railroad crossings and 644 oncoming vehicles. The Interstate route, by contrast, had zero of each.

Also, the state highway route required 192 gear shifts and 68 brake applications while the Interstate route required just three shifts and one brake application, Bouchard confirmed. The Interstate route required 10 gallons less fuel as well.

When legislators review the pilot, Bouchard hopes they present all the facts.

“I hope they are looking hard at the benefits of allowing the Interstate system to carry the loads it was designed to carry,” he said. “Weight reform is a winner for trucking efficiency but an even bigger winner for public safety. Maine manufacturing industries need this to be competitive in the global economy. Maine is surrounded by Canadian provinces with even higher weight allowances than Maine – not to mention that New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont have weight allowance on their Interstates. We sit in the middle of a donut and must be able to compete.”

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