The study compares and contrasts the potential impact of the current 80,000-lb., five-axle semi configuration and an expanded 97,000-lb., six-axle configuration on three areas: motorist safety, infrastructure integrity and cost savings and efficiency gains for the soybean industry. The goal of the study is to highlight whether expanding semi weight limits is a viable and common sense approach for enhancing transportation capacity and mitigating highway congestion.
Dean Campbell, a soybean producer from Coulterville, IL, and chair of the STC argues, "All of us in this country desire to have a strong, healthy economy. However, we have failed to provide a strong, healthy transportation system to enable our economy – particularly our rural economy – to thrive. We need to find ways to increase the efficiency of all modes of transportation while not endangering fellow motorists or causing added stress on the existing infrastructure. The Soy Transportation Coalition's analysis on semi weight limits assists in this effort."
STC Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says, "What Americans produce, manufacture, purchase and consume requires a transportation system to deliver products in a cost effective, reliable manner. By all estimates, our nation's highways and interstates are increasingly incapable of accommodating these demands – resulting in a further drag on our overall economy, including the agricultural sector.
“Increasing semi weight limits offers the potential of relieving a degree of pressure on this overly congested system,” he says. “However, because it is a hotly contested, controversial issue, it was prudent for the soybean farmers to take an inventory of the available research and analysis on this subject as well as determine the potential cost savings and efficiency gains realized by the soybean industry. We believe our report will add value to the overall debate."
The full STC study, “Heavier Semis: A Good Idea?” as well as an executive summary can be accessed at the STC’s Web site: www.soytransportation.org.