Economy and Business
Wed June 19, 2013
When Highway 41 Becomes An Interstate, What Will Happen To Its Weight Limits?
Highway 41, Northeastern Wisconsin's main north-south highway, is poised to become an interstate as early as next year.
Two area congressmen, Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisc., and Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., are asking the federal government to keep current weight limits on Highway 41 when the change comes.
But federal roads have different rules than Wisconsin state highways. Representatives Petri and Ribble have introduced legislation that would allow trucks to continue to carry heavy weights during “frozen road” season.
One of the nation's largest trucking companies, Schneider National, is based in Green Bay. The company's general counsel is Tom Vandenberg.
“What Wisconsin is attempting to do is preserve its flexibility with respect to these very limited vehicle types and very limited commodity types on Highway 41.”
Interstates limit semi-trucks to 80,000 pounds gross weight. Vandenberg says trucks can carry up to 98,000 pounds on Wisconsin roads when the roads are frozen.
He says this applies to specialized commodities, which Schneider doesn't generally ship. Still, Vandenberg says, without the Petri-Ribble provision trucks would have to find alternate routes.
“As an example: Logs that are being brought down to paper mills from the northern part of the state, or milk that's being transported will have to get diverted off of Highway 41 onto county roads or other state highways, which we don't think is a good thing.”
Vandenberg says using back roads is a bad idea because they aren't engineered to accommodate large trucks.