The allowable weight of trucks on local roads will remain the same.
That comes as a relief to county and state engineers, who had voiced their opposition along with Summit County Council members. They said increasing truck weights an additional 10,000 pounds would create a safety issue — likely causing more rollover crashes — and would damage local roads. Many lobbied against any change in weight limits.
Initially, the Ohio House introduced a provision in its transportation bill (House Bill 51) that would increase the allowable weight limit of trucks from 80,000 to 90,000 pounds.
After the Ohio House passed the measure two weeks ago, the Summit County Engineer’s Office began a letter-writing and phone-calling campaign to state officials. It was part of a statewide effort launched by the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) to fight the proposal.
The County Council passed a resolution this week in opposition to the heavier truckloads.
On Wednesday, the House and Senate agreed not to change the law, so the 80,000-pound maximum will remain.
When the measure got to the Senate floor, Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley Township, was among several legislators who submitted an amendment to leave weight limits the same.
“Candidly, there’s no such thing as a 100 percent good bill, so there’s things in there that you like and things that you don’t like,” LaRose said. “But on balance most of us were opposed to raising it to 90,000 pounds.
“So we stood firm at the current law of 80,000, and that’s exactly what our County Council in Summit County had asked for as well.”
He criticized the House for inserting the change without much input.
“It wasn’t broadly discussed, and no testimony was taken in the House,” LaRose said. “We heard testimony last week [in the Senate], and I can tell you virtually no one came in to speak in favor of increasing it from 80,000 to 90,000 pounds. Almost universally, law enforcement, public safety, county engineers and local government of all kinds were against it. Even the trucking association wasn’t in favor of it. They were technically neutral because they have members who think it’s a good idea and others who think it’s a poor idea.”
Local officials attributed the outcome to voicing their opposition.
“I think it was very successful. CEAO did a really good job mobilizing people to speak out and contact their state reps and state senators and let them know how the local officials felt about it,” said Heidi Swindell of the Summit County Engineer’s Office. “Now that being said, we do expect it to come back at some point, but we are on high alert for any time they discuss it. It might be in the next budget bill or in a separate bill, but we are keeping an eye on it.”
On Thursday, the House voted 63-28 to give final approval to the revised state transportation bill.
It includes Gov. John Kasich’s plan for a $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale and increases Ohio’s speed limit to 70 mph on rural interstate highways.
Kasich is expected to sign the bill into law.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.