Keep on truckin’
On June 13, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development held a hearing about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. I was confounded to hear Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, decry the dire condition of highways and bridges throughout our state since she was the lead proponent of allowing behemoth 100,000-pound trucks on our interstate.
In January 2011, I urged members of the Maine delegation to stop the 20-year congressional pilot program allowing these overweight trucks on our roads. Despite clear and compelling facts demonstrating the safety risks and damage to our infrastructure, the program was enacted.
Now, Collins says that Maine’s roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation’s rural transportation system. Well, the senator should know that large, heavy trucks are a major cause of bridge and pavement damage.
The Maine Department of Transportation estimates that to maintain state highways and bridges in good repair would cost $335 million annually — $110 million above current levels. The senator should have considered the cost to Maine’s citizens and taxpayers before supporting legislation to allow more big trucks on I-95.
Aside from the damage to our infrastructure, large truck crashes continue to claim about 4,000 lives annually. In 1993, my teenage son, Jeff, and three friends were killed by a large truck while stopped in their car in the breakdown lane of the Maine Turnpike. The chance of surviving a serious crash with a large truck is slim, and now with 100,000-pound trucks, it’s even slimmer.