This new law enables the truck weigh limits on nearly 300 miles of Maine Interstate north of Augusta to be raised to the 100,000 pound limit during the one-year federal pilot. Until the change, this stretch of Interstate was limited to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Surrounding states and provinces had a near or above 100,000 pound limit.
“Raising the weight limit on the Interstate north of Augusta will enable Maine to increase safety on its roads, reduce pollution and puts the State on even footing regionally, aiding our ability to compete economically,” said Governor Baldacci. “This significant achievement would not be possible without the sustained support from Senator Susan Collins, Senator Olympia Snowe, Congressman Mike Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, as well as the Maine Legislature, especially the Leadership, sponsors of this bill and the members of the Transportation Committee.”
The Governor’s bill was passed as emergency legislation by the Maine Legislature on Feb. 11 and signed into law by the Governor on Feb. 12. The legislation was possible following passage in December of a pilot program at the federal level. The one-year pilot, sponsored by Senator Collins, paved the way to raising the weigh limits on the Interstate System.
“This bill is essential for safety and for our economy,” said the Governor. “The State and Federal changes enable Maine to move heavy truck traffic off Maine’s secondary roads and onto the Interstate that was built to handle them.”
The Governor said heavy truck traffic in Maine towns was a risk to the public. According to national statistics, 82 percent of commercial vehicle fatalities occur on non-Interstate roads.
In addition, the change will have a positive impact on the environment. According to estimates provided to the Maine Department of Transportation, trucks traveling on the I-95 are 14-21 percent more fuel efficient than the same trucks on secondary roads.
Moving heavy traffic to the Interstate is also expected to reduce wear-and-tear on Maine’s secondary roads and reduce bridge and pavement repairs by as much as $2 million per year.
The Governor and Transportation Department Commissioner David Cole said that they were hopeful that the pilot will be extended in the future.