Wednesday September 21, 2011 | 05:06 PM

The Senate Approprations Committee has approved a 2012 spending bill that includes language allowing big rigs back on all of Maine's interstates.

Legislation co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to allow trucks weighing as much as 100,000 pounds to use all of the state's interstates has been included in a 2012 transportation spending bill approved by the full appropriations committee a day after approval by the transportation subcommitteee.

Collins, the top Republican on the subcommittee, wrote the legislation with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Vermont and Maine have been trying to overturn a federal ban on heavier trucks using interstates. The language in the bill applies to just Maine and Vermont, calling for permanent exemptions to the federal ban.

Still ahead, however, is a floor vote in the Senate. And the same language is not in the House version of the 2012 transportation spending bill.

Some highway safety groups say the heavier trucks are unsafe and cause too much damage to the roads. Maine lawmakers say nearby states such as Massachusetts and New Hampshire already have the exemption Maine seeks, and say it's unsafe for the the heavier trucks to be on side roads.

 

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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