BOISE • The Idaho Senate has passed a bill raising the weight limit for trucks on interstate highways to 129,000 pounds.
Sponsored by Senate Transportation Chairman Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, the bill aligns Idaho with its neighboring states which have 129,000-pound limits, making interstate commerce easier. Congress froze states’ weight limits in 1991, and Idaho’s at the time was 105,500 pounds, Brackett said.
“It created a patchwork of different weight limits across the nation,” he said.
The state conducted a 10-year pilot study raising the weight limit to 129,000 pounds on some state roads, many of them in the Magic Valley, and found they didn’t have any significant effect on road safety or structural soundness.
In December, Congress authorized Idaho to raise its weight limit as part of the omnibus spending bill.
“This is a unique situation,” Brackett said. “Rather than taking power away from the states, this federal legislation ... returns power to the states.”
The Legislature passed a joint memorial in 2015 calling for the power to raise the weight limit, and Brackett thanked Idaho’s federal delegation for helping in the effort, singling out U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson for particular praise.
Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Rupert, also spoke in favor of the bill, saying raising truck weight limits would help interstate trade and Idaho’s economy and would be particularly beneficial for the sugar beet industry.
“Coming from the district from where I come, this is an important part of our agricultural economy,” he said.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, voted for it, but said she was conflicted and had safety concerns because the state hasn’t addressed its backlog of road maintenance.
It passed 31-3, with Boise Democrats Grant Burgoyne and Maryanne Jordan and Sandpoint Republican Shawn Keough opposed. Jordan said she was against it because the bill would let heavy trucks on I-184, the four-mile connector road outside of Boise. Keough cited safety worries.
“We still have safety benchmarks that we have not met,” she said.