Bad Bill of the Week: Vehicle Weight Limits Weigh Heavy on AK Economy.

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The  “Bad Bill of the Week” for this week is awarded to HB 305/SB 218 “An Act relating to vehicle weight limits; and providing for an effective date.”

It would seem that a 1 ½ page bill with only 39 lines of text couldn’t do too much damage to Alaska’s economy – don’t be fooled by brevity!

The bill, if passed, would require a new permit for any vehicle whose loaded gross weight exceeds 140,000 pounds.  The fee charged for the permit is meant to offset the costs to the state to keep the roads and bridges maintained to handle heavy loads. 

It seems pretty simple – until you start thinking about the impact that trucking has on the lives of every Alaskan, and what increased costs for trucking will mean for Alaska consumers.

For years, trucking operations in Alaska have built business models and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on equipment based on the existing weight allowances.

 For example, a standard fuel truck with a trailer regularly exceeds the weight of 140,000 pounds.  With this new requirement – fuel trucks would have to run with less fuel, meaning more overall traffic as more runs would have to be made to deliver the same amount of product. 

That was just one example. 

This legislation also threatens industry operations in Alaska. Major investments have been made in mines and oil & gas operations based on existing weight allowances. Changing the rules after investments have already been made risks the chance of making projects cost prohibitive and worsens Alaska’s reputation as a good place to do business. 

A small bill with the potential for a huge hit to Alaska’s economy.