POCATELLO, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department is mulling shippers’ requests to increase the truck weight limit on 11 state and federal highway routes in Eastern Idaho.
Farmers or companies involved in shipping agricultural inputs, products and commodities made some of the requests to increase truck weight limits from 105,500 pounds to 129,000 pounds.
The rules affect so-called reducible shipments, in which some of the freight can be removed to lighten a load.
ITD hosted a public hearing on the proposed route changes Aug. 31 in Pocatello, and a special subcommittee on 129,000-pound truck routes was scheduled to consider the requests during an Oct. 11 meeting in Boise, to base recommendations to the ITD Transportation Board.
Agriculture-related route requests came from Great Western Malting Plant, Polcock Trucking, White Pine Farms, Mid Crystal Farms and WinCo Foods. Great Western’s request would affect truck deliveries of malting barley from Yellowstone Avenue to its Pocatello plant.
Mid Crystal Farms is seeking to increase weight limits for hauling wheat from Idaho 38 to Interstate 15 to Holbrook.
White Pine Farms is seeking to more efficiently haul agricultural commodities from the Oneida and Power County line to Interstate 86.
Polcock Trucking hauls feed, fertilizer and other farm commodities on Highway 91 from Preston to I-15. WinCo Foods proposed its route to haul larger loads of dry and perishable grocery items from its Pocatello store via U.S. 91 to Interstate 86.
ITD spokesman Adam Rush said most 129,000-pound loads will be made by trucks pulling two trailers, equipped with additional axles to improve braking and more evenly distribute weight. Rush said a pilot project involving 35 sections of Idaho highways confirmed 129,000-pound truckloads can be just as safe and actually reduce wear on roads and infrastructure, while also minimizing truck trips.
“The whole goal behind the 129,000-pound effort is to have a transport or shipping company be able to consolidate trips, improve efficiency and reduce the number of trucks they have on the road,” Rush said.
In 2013, the pilot routes were made permanent, and ITD established a process whereby applicants may propose additional 129,000-pound routes. Through that process, weight limits have been increased on sections of Idaho 30, Idaho 55, U.S. 95, U.S. 12, U.S. 25, Idaho 77 and Idaho 39. Rush said a route request triggers a 30-day public comment period, a review by ITD staff and then a public hearing in the same region.
Hans Hayden, a dryland wheat grower with Mid Crystal Farms in Arbon Valley, said the change will enable him to send 25 percent fewer truckloads of wheat to the mills in Ogden, Utah.
“And it takes only a few percentage points more fuel,” said Hayden, who is already working to retrofit a truck with more axles to haul 129,000-pound loads.
Hayden believes the state should simply allow the greater weight limit wherever feasible and discontinue the piecemeal approach of approving applications, reasoning “129,000-pound trucks are not ever a problem and they almost always are a solution.”
Idaho Trucking Association President and CEO Julie Pipal agrees the state now has the necessary data to justify “something more comprehensive than route-by-route approval.”
“The piecemeal approach doesn’t really get to what we all want, which is an efficient system where we can move goods,” Pipal said.