Wicker Puts Senate on Record Against Federal Truck Mandate

November 16, 2015

Lawmakers have sent a powerful signal that they will stand with the American people when it comes to keeping bigger trucks off of our highways and byways. On Nov. 10, I brought a motion to the Senate floor opposing a federal mandate that would force states to allow double 33-foot trailers, also known as twin 33s. My measure received strong bipartisan support, passing by a vote of 56-31.

38 States Currently Ban Twin 33s

The vote is a victory for public safety, states’ rights, small businesses, and the quality of our roads and bridges. A federal mandate on these longer trucks should not overturn the decisions of the 38 states that currently ban them, including Mississippi. It also should not come before the Department of Transportation (DOT) can conduct a full study on how these trucks could affect public safety. The length of these trucks is so immense that they have been compared to an eight-story building turned on its side.

I am not alone in believing that it would be unwise to put twin 33 trailers on the road without the proper data from DOT and a formal rulemaking process. Highway safety advocates, automobile associations, trucking associations, state troopers, and law enforcement associations are also opposed.

In addition, state and local governments should not be forced to endure added road maintenance costs. Twin 33s would put more wear and tear on our nation’s roads, costing between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion per year in additional funding.

Highway Bill Faces Nov. 20 Deadline

My motion on twin 33s followed a vote in the Senate to go to conference on a multiyear highway bill, which was recently passed by the House of Representatives. The work to reconcile the differences between the House highway bill and the Senate bill, which passed earlier this year, is needed right away. Federal highway funding is set to expire on Nov. 20.

America’s communities deserve a long-term infrastructure plan. For years, Congress has kicked the can down the road by passing dozens of short-term extensions. A highway bill that includes multiple years of transportation funding can help provide much-needed certainty to state and local governments when planning and implementing infrastructure repairs and upgrades. This certainty could make a big difference in Mississippi. Nearly a quarter of our state’s rural roads have been rated in “poor condition” by TRIP, a nonprofit research group.

A safe and reliable transportation system is important to economic growth and global competitiveness. Mississippi’s farmers and businesses depend on this network for shipping their goods to market. Likewise, companies look at the condition of our roads when deciding whether or not to invest in our state. These investments create jobs and opportunities for Mississippians, in addition to improving the quality of life in our communities and keeping costs down for consumers.

A multiyear highway bill is much better than relying on short-term fixes or risking a gap in infrastructure funding. I hope that the Republican-controlled Senate and House will be able to point to this critical piece of legislation as a major accomplishment very soon.