PORTLAND — Senators in three states have introduced a bill to permanently increase truck weights from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds on interstate highways, as long as individual states opt in.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says the bill would level the playing field in all states. She is being joined by Idaho Republican Mike Crapo and Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl in supporting the Senate version of a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine.

The federal government has imposed a limit of 80,000 pounds since 1974. But about a dozen states have various exemptions, allowing the use of heavier trucks on interstate highways.

Maine and Vermont are currently engaged in a one-year experiment with higher weight limits on the interstates. But the pilot program is due to expire on Dec. 18.

“It’s great news that these senators have introduced the bill,” said Michaud.  “It will hopefully provide momentum to my efforts to seek a permanent change to Maine’s Interstate truck weight limit.”

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