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Friday November 04, 2011 | 04:46 PM

A Senate-approved measure allowing trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on all of Maine’s interstates may be on the road toward gaining House approval, too, says Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd.

Currently, trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds can use only the Maine Turnpike and side roads elsewhere around the state. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont co-authored a provision in a broader spending bill giving exemptions to trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds so they can use all interstates in Maine and Vermont.

That broader bill, which includes transportation and agriculture spending for 2012, approved by the Senate last month now must be reconciled with a House version that does not include the truck weight provision. That means proponents of the truck weight provision need the provision to be agreed to by a House-Senate conference committee crafting the final compromise, a conference committee on which Collins, a Senate Appropriations Committee member, will serve.

Michaud, a member of the House Transportation Committee but not the House Appropriations Committee, said today in a release that he has spoken with key House members who will help decide the issue on the House side and liked what he heard.

“While nothing is certain until we see the final package, I’m confident at this point that the truck weight provision will survive final negotiations,” Michaud said in a statement. “I’ve spoken with key members of Congress over the last few weeks that will be involved in crafting the final bill, and they’ve committed to me that they will support Maine’s truck weight fix.”

The truck weight measure has been long-sought by the Maine congressional delegation, state officials and many local residents who don't want about big rigs banned from the highway rumbling through intersections and past homes, businesses and schools.

For a year, the heavier trucks were largely absent from side roads. But last December, a federal pilot program allowing access to all Maine interstates lapsed.

 

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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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