and improve the quality of our highways and bridges in the context of an aging sur-
face transportation infrastructure, significant unmet needs, and limited resources."
Similarly, in its 1991 report to Congress on transportation infrastructure needs,
the GAO indicated that FHWA had shown that:
over 40 percent of all Interstate pavement is rated in fair or poor condition. The
outlook ibr future preservation is not encxiuraging becau.se (1) DOT projects that
Interstate conditions are not expected to improve even if 4R funding levels are
substantially increased, (2) Interstate capacity enhancement needs will increas-
ingly compete with preservation needs * * *■'**'
Even maintaining 1989 c-onditions on the Interstate would require all levels of gov-
ernment to invest an average of $8.7 billion a year through the year 2009 and to
improve conditions — eliminating capital backlogs and meeting accruing pix'servation
and capacity needs — would require $15.8 billion a year.-" The operation of heavy ve-
hicles was identified by the GAO in this report as a primary cause of atxrelerated
Where will this money come from, Mr. Chairman? The prospects right now for
adequate infrastructure funding, especially in light of the call from FHWA to con-
sider long-range, more expensive and durable highway and bridge designs, is very
poor. Current authorizations and appropriations cannot address pending needs
much less advance project designs for roads and bridges to more sophisticated levels
increase U) as much as $131 billion, depending on the number of years required to reduc-e the
28 1994 LCV Report, p. 22 (emphasis supplied).
^7 Id., p. 31.
■■^Id., p. 5.
■■'^"Intermodal Freight Transportation: (^)mbined Rail-Truck Service OfTi-rs Public Benefits,
Rut Challenges I^-main," op. cit., p. 9 (emphasis supplied).
^"Transportation Infrastructure: IVeserving the Nation's Investment in the Interstate High-
way vSystem, CAO/RCKI) 91- 147. August 1991. p. 2.
" Id., p. 16.
■'^Id.. p. 24. Kven the safety of other road users is adversely afTected by heavy vehicle pave-
Vehicle weight is the principal cause of 'Yutting", or gTooves in the wheel path on asphalt
pavement. This condition allows water to remain on the road surface, leaving pavement surfaces
slick and motorists more susceptible to accidents. Federal legislation has permitted larger and
heavier vehicles to travel on the Interstate Highway System.
of safety and durability. The GAO has even raised the alarm that funding shortfalls
can become considerably worse in the near future, especially if the 1956 Byrd
amendment is triggered because of highway trust fund revenue shortfalls.
Revenues projected through fiscal year 1999 will fall $5.9 billion short of au-
thorizations to be paid from the Highway Trust Fund's highway account during
the ISTKA authorization period (fi.scal years 1992 through 1997) * * * A short-
fall in actual and anticipated revenues is expected to trigger the Byrd Amend-
ment in fiscal year 1995 and to grow substantially during the remaining 2 years
of the authorization period. Most of the projected shortfall is attributable to an
anticipated decline in the collections of highway excise taxes.
if current revenue projections prove accurate, the Byrd Amendment will re-
quire FHWA to reduce states' highway apportionments.^'*
According to the GAO, "excise tax revenues will not be sufficient to satisfy the Byrd
test in fiscal years 1995, 1996, and 1997."-*4
Unfortunately, the looming problem of a surface transportation funding shortfall
is made much worse by the lact of heavy trucks radically underpaying their fair
share for the use — and rapid destruction — of our roads and bridges. In a letter to
Congressman Norman Mineta, (Chairman, Hou.se i\iblic Works and Transportation
Committee, in June 1994, the CiAO emphasized that:
fuel taxes, combined with other federal u.ser fees * * * do not sudlciently cor-
relate the charges that users pay with the damage that they charge. Highway
wear increases exponentially with the weight of a vehicle's axle load, and past
studies have suggested that heavy trucks may not be paying their fair share
of highway costs. In 1982, for example, FHWA found that the largest trucks
(over 75,000 pounds) paid only 50 cents for every dollar's worth of highway
damage they cased, while the smallest trucks (under 26,000 pounds) paid $1.;^0
for every dollar's worth of highway damage they caused.-*''
In fact, following a three-year review, FHWA found that there were real inequities
in the federal highway user fee system. The heaviest trucks were underpaying their
fair share of taxes by about 50 percent, while passenger cars were overpaying by
about 10 percent. These "heaviest trucks" were comoination rigs between only
70,000 and 80,000 pounds.'*® No estimates have been made formally on the costs of
pavement and bridge damage caused by much heavier trucks, although the sus-
picion is that the heaviest live-axle combinations and overweight-permitted IX^Vs
may pay less than 20 percent of their cost responsibilities for pavement and bridge
destruction. This is because "pavement repair costs ri.se more rapidly with a vehi-
cle's weight than do fuel taxes."''"'
Yet the trucking industry has fought incessantly, and quite sucx'essfully, to prv-
vent equitable charges for their damaging use of our nation's highways and bridges.
"To improve equity, the Congress |in the 1982 STAA| mandated that the ceiling for
the heavy vehicle use tax be increased from $240 a year to $ 1,900 a year by
1989."'*" This triggered a predictable response fn)m the trucking industry which
went on the offensive to scotch any increa.se of this magnitude. Against a backdrop
of "studies" which claimed that all highway degradation was due to environmental
weathering, not primarily from heavy truck axle loads, the ceiling for the heavy u.se
tax was lowered in the 1984 Deficit Reduction Act from $1,900 to $550 a year.''^
This effectively undercut any effort finally to get heavy trucking to pay its fair share
for infrastructure damage.
The GAO concludes in its highway user fee study that:
federal efforts to make highway user fees more equitable thn)Ugh the heavy ve-
hicle use tax, new vehicle exci.se tax, and heavy tire tax have been ineffective.
* * * |T|he heavy vehicle use tax is relatively small and is capped at a low
amount ($550) for trucks weighing over 75,000 pounds. As a result, it fails to
charge for the additional wt-ar caused by the heaviest tnjcks on the highways.'"'
^■'Hij^hway Trust Fund StraU-j;icK for Safl-giiardinj; Highway Kinaiuinf;, (wXO/IU'K!) 92 245,
Soplciiiher 1992, p. I .
The Ryrd Aniondincnl was enailixl in 1956 an piirl oC thi- U'j;islati(in cri-atinf^ I hi- Hi^jhway
TruBl Fund and was KubsLanlially rnodilu'd in 19H2. As rcvisttl, Iho l?vrd Anu-ndnu-nt n'(|uin's
that, in any f;ivon yi'ar, the hi^;hway aicouiil lialaiuv plus rovi-nuc lollcilions anlicipalt-d
throuf^h the next 12 yi-ars Im" sudirient to cover oiilsUindin^; aiithori/ations Id., p. '.\
^\d.. p. 4.
^"Quoted in Hl^;hway User Fi-es: Updated Data Neetled to Determine Whether All Users I'ay
Their Fair Share, ('.A()/R(:FI)-94 IHl , June 19H4, p. 1 .
'••Id., pp. 4-5.
■" Id., p. 7.
^«ld.. p. 5.
■•Old,, p. H.
All in all, Mr. Chairman, the GAO strikes a very cautionary stance on the safety
and adverse infrastructure effects of expanded I^CV operation, especially when its
considerations are viewed against the backdrop of its other recent studies on infra-
structure damage and funding, and highway cost responsibilities. The GAO is at
pains to point out that "[ejven if LCVs were allowed nationwide, their potential use
would not have a large impact on overall trucking costs|,l"^i so the cost efficiencies
of changing to LCVs for either less-than-truckload or even long-haul freight move-
ment are not easily seen.'*^ F\jrthermore,
Some [companies] pointed out that without a national network of highways
open to turnpike doubles, it is not practical to realign operations in order to use
doubles. They also noted that under pressure from customers, many companies
are transitioning to 53-foot trailers. Even if the interstate system were open to
turnpike doubles, the following questions would remain about their use
• Would customers accept a return to 48-foot trailers?*^
It is probable that the trucking industry will stress the desire of shippers to have
goods received in 53-foot long trailers when an LCV is broken down or staged" into
its component trailers, and if this is the case, Mr. Chairman, can the turnpike dou-
ble consisting of two 53-foot long units — a rig over 125 feet long — be far behind? We
think the answer is obvious.
The GAO also emphasizes in concluding its 1994 LCV report that "it is question-
able whether the.se long doubles would be a viable alternative to the current trends
in the truckload industry, which involve using longer single trailers and intermodal
rail service.""''' I>ast year, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a Na-
tional Transportation System (NTS) initiative to ensure that the NlIS doesn't prove
to be another instance of single mode tunnel vision in planning for freight move-
ment in the twenty-first century. Secretary Pen a emphasized how the Nl'S would
view the NHS as a constituent part of a unified transportation network which has
a balanced multi-modal perspective on moving people and freight. It may be, Mr.
Chairman, that a "road train" like the turnpike double is really a Hrontosaurus
ready to slide into a tar pit for preservation as a historical curiosity that refused
to evolve with a change in the transportation climate.
All of the considerations bearing on longer trucks that I've addressed in my testi-
mony, Mr. Chairman, clearly show that the current LCV freeze is critical to control-
ling the safety and durability of our highways and bridges, liut even further, these
considerations also show that this freeze needs to be complemented by a nationwide
limit on the length of trailers to prevent the inevitable gn)wth ol the "industry
standard" semi-trailer beyond 53 feet. Without this cap at least on the NHS, if not
on the 1982 STAA Designated National Network which put longer trailers on most
arterial highways beyond the Interstate, the safety purposes and infrastructure
preservation goals of the LCV freeze will be circumvented by further increases in
When trailers grow longer, legal axle and gross weights are increasingly breached
either by a surge in improper permits for nondivisible loads or by more trucks oper-
ating at illegal weights. When trailers grow longer, certain kinds of cargo that fill
shorter trailers to capacity without exceeding weight laws Ix^come the occasion for
routine violations of axle and weight limits. When trailers grow longer, the trucking
industry demands that the design of our roads and bridges, of our ramps and inter-
changes, be strengthened and enlarged to fit the bigger rigs.
Mr. Chairman, our highway system cannot a)ntinue to have the demand placed
on it by the trucking industry for impn)mptu increases in design and infrastructure
funding just because there are ingenious ways to keep upping the ante on commer-
cial vehicle size and weight. Congressional hearings over the past few years, recent
GAO reports, and state fiscal projections all consistently report how our infrastruc-
ture funding is in serious arrears. State departments of transportation need reliable
predictions not only of how much money they will have to maintain our previous
investments, but what will be the size and weight of heavy commercial vehicles. A
major reconstruction project takes years to plan, design, obtain potential right-of-
ways additions, and meet new environmental and land-use requirements. We cannot
keep asking our highway agencies to play catch-up with the demands of longer.
"' Id., p. 41.
*^ But rtxlucing the number oflon^j-haul IX'V Inps would rnatenally improve Inick safi-ly Tho
GAO recogiiizwi that diversion of hi)4hway (rei^;ht Irallic to other modes in an important con-
tribution to hifjhway safety f^ams. its 1992 report on intermodal fruij^ht transport undorscores
this: "A reduction in transcontinental driving should bt-nefit highway safety by improving dnv
ers' morale and lessening fatigue." "Intermodal Freight Transportiilion: (\)mbined Itiiil-IYuck
Service Offers Public Benefits, but ('hallenges Ketnain," op. cit., p. 44.
"Id., p. :!7.
** Id., p. 45.
wider, heavier combination trucks when they are unable to make real gains on the
enormous backlog of unmet needs.
The time has come to stop the never-ending spiral of alternate increases in the
size and weight of heavy trucks by putting the lid on trailer lengths. We ask this
Committee's support for such action, including your careful review of the merits of
Thank you again for this oppxjrtunity to testify. I'm ready to respond to any ques-
tions or requests for more information that the members oi the Subcommittee might
Senator ExoN. Kay, welcome to you. It is good to see a friendly
Nebraska face here. We have worked together on safety issues for
a long, long time. I appreciate very much the fact that you have
taken time to come into Washington to testify on this very, very
important matter. Please proceed at this time in any fashion you
STATEMENT OF KAY E. KONZ, NEBRASKA VOLUNTEER COOR-
DINATOR, CITIZENS FOR RELIABLE AND SAFE HIGHWAYS
(CRASH); ACCOMPANIED BY JOAN CLAYBROOK, COCHAIR OF
CRASH, AND PRESIDENT, PUBLIC CITIZEN
Ms. KoNZ. Thank you. Senator Exon for asking me to testify on
behalf of the Nebraska CRASH coalition for the subcommittee in
reference to the national highway system.
I am accompanied today by Joan Claybrook, who is the national
cochair of CRASH, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.
Again, my name is Kay Konz. And I am a licensed professional
counselor at Catholic Social Services in Lincoln, NE. I am also a
certified school psychologist in the State of Nebraska. I am pleased
to serve as the volunteer coordinator in Nebraska for CRASH.
My commitment to highway safety is deeply personal. In 1983,
I was seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash. I was unable to
work for several years as a result of those injuries.
My brother's son, also, was killed last year on my country's high-
ways. My family and I cannot afford to lose anymore on our Na-
And even with that. Senator, I feel that I am at risk every time
that I get on the interstate between Lincoln to Omaha to go to my
parent's farm, because that stretch of road is so heavily trafficked
with cars and with trucks that I feel like I am in danger.
Mr. Chairman, every day 3 children die and 260 children are in-
jured in traffic crashes. Motor vehicle crashes are killing more of
our children and youth than any other single cause.
If a disease were killing our children at the rate that they die
on the highways, every parent in every district would be demand-
ing our Government invest every possible resource into finding a
That disease, Mr. Chairman, is embedded in our current highway
system that allows ever larger trucks on our roads. The trucks rep-
resent only 12 percent of the traffic on interstate highways.
They are involved in 38 percent of motorist fatalities in crashes
involving more than one vehicle. In 1992, more than 4,400 people
were killed in truck-related crashes.
I am here today to ask the Senate to stop the racheting upward
of truck size and weight. I urge the committee to cap trailer length
at 53 feet on the National Highway System, exempting longer trail-
ers only if they are currently in use and operate in States where
thev are already authorized.
The American Association for State Highway and Transportation
Officials recommended 30 years ago that semitrailers be limited to
But with no national limit in place, State after State moved to
allow 53-foot trailers. As you pointed out, when some States have
allowed longer vehicles, other States acquiesced in order to stay
Today, 53-foot trailers are used in every State but Rhode Island.
And now, 57-, 59-, even 60-foot trailers are legal in some States.
CRASH is also urging the Senate to freeze truck rates on the Na-
tional Highway System and to repeal the Symms amendment,
which would return authority to the U.S. Department of Transpor-
tation to review State claims of grandfather rights on the Inter-
state Highway System.
We believe that the length and weight of trucks should be frozen
since any increase in one is virtually always followed by pressure
to raise the other.
If length limits are raised, factions within the trucking industry
push for higher weight limits to accommodate the added trailer ca-
pacity. And weight increases lead to demands for greater length to
accommodate the additional weight.
Senator, it is the legendary snake biting its own tail in regard
to length and weight issues.
The National Highway System will add 110,000 miles to the net-
work of federally funded roads built and maintained with gas tax
As Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater recently point-
ed out, the heavier the trucks, the more damage to our already de-
teriorated road system. In one trip, a typical 18-wheeler causes as
much road damage as thousands of cars.
Unless the Senate acts to control maximum truck weights, bil-
lions of dollars of highway and bridge investments will be pre-
A truck length and weight freeze on the NHS has been endorsed
by the American Automobile Association, the American Public
Health Association, the Consumer Coalition for Health and Safety,
the Friends of the Earth, the General Federation of Women's
Clubs, the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Sierra Club,
the United Transportation Union, the Owner-Operator-Independ-
ent Drivers Association, and dozens of other consumer, safety, med-
ical, labor, and environmental groups.
Mr. Chairman, next to me is a photo of a double 59-foot tractor
trailer, the exact kind of truck that the State of Oklahoma recently
attempted to get approval to run on its roads.
The full length of this giant rig extends to 135 feet. Can you
imagine trying to pass this on the highway, on the interstate be-
tween Omaha and Lincoln?
Just to put it in perspective, the standard midsize four-door car
today, such as a 1994 Honda Accord, is 15.33 feet in length. The
giant truck is nine times the length of the average family pas-
The question is: At what point will we say, "Enough"?
We believe the time is now for the sake of protecting the motor-
ing pubhc and preserving our infrastructure, to freeze truck weight
at 80,000 pounds and cap truck lengths at 53 feet.
Senator, there is a story I was told recently about Mother The-
resa who attended a conference on hunger. And as she arrived,
there was a man who was dying of starvation sitting on the steps
as people were stepping over him to go into the conference build-
While I recognize the need to study this issue and to collect good
and sound data, I also feel that while we are waiting to do that,
we are driving over dead bodies just as those people to that con-
ference were stepping over dead bodies to talk about hunger.
I am asking this committee to help stop the destruction of our
Nation's highways by limiting longer and heavier trucks on the Na-
tional Highway System. These highway trains are more dangerous
and more damaging to our roads.
Please protect the safety of Nebraska motorists for my family,
my friends, my colleagues, my students, and my clients.
Thank you for hearing my concerns.
Senator ExON. Kay, thank you very much for your excellent testi-
[The prepared statement of Ms. Konz follows:!
I'kkpakki) Statkmknt ok Kay Konz
Thank you, Senator Exon, for asking me lo testify before this subcommittee in ref-
erence to the National Highway System (NHS).
My name is Kay Konz, and I am a licensed professional counselor and certified
school psychologist in the State of Nebraska. I am also pleased to serve as the Vol-
unteer Coordinator in Nebraska for CRASH, Citizens (or Reliable and Safe High-
My interest in highway safety is deeply personal. In 1983, I was seriously injured
in a motor vehicle crash and was unable to work for several years as a result of
those injuries. My brother's son was also killed last year on our country's highways.
My family and I cannot afford to lose any more on our highways and freeways.
Mr. Chairman, every day three children die and 260 children are injured in traffic
crashes. Motor vehicle crashes are killing more of our children and youth than any
other single cause. If a disease were killing our children at the rate they perish on
our highways, every parent in every district would be demanding that our govern-
ment invest every possible resource into finding a cure for a deadly illness.
That illness, Mr. Chairman, is embedded in our current highway system that al-
lows ever-larger trucks on our roads. Though trucks represent only 12 percent of
the traffic on Interstate Highways, they are involved in 'AH percent of motorist fatali-
ties in crashes involving more than one vehicle. In 1992, more than 4,400 people
were killed in truck related crashes.
I am here today to ask the Senate to stop the racheting upward of truck size and
weight. I urge the Committee to cap trailer length at 53 feet on the National High-
way System, exempting longer trailers only if they arc currently in use and operate
in states where they are already authorized.
The American Association for State Highway and Transportation Officials rec-
ommended years ago that semi-trailers be limited to 48 feet. Hut with no national
limit in place, state aRer state moved to allow 53 foot trailers. Once some states
had the longer trailers, others felt they had to go along in order to stay competitive,
and today 53 foot trailers are used in every state but Rhode Island. Now 57, 59 and
even 60 foot trailers are legal in some states; federal action is needed to prevent
them from spreading all over the country.
CRASH is also urging the Senate to freeze ti-uck weights on the NHS, and to re-
peal the Symms Amendment, which would return authority to the US Department
of Transportation to review state claims of grandfather rights on the Interstate
Highway System. We feel both the length and weight of trucks need to be frozen,
since any increase in one is virtually always followed by pressure to raise the other.
If length limits air- rai.sed, parts of tiojcking industry will push for higher weight
limits to accommodate the added trailer capacity; and weight increases lead to de-
mands for greater length to accommodate the additional weight.
The National Highway System will add 110,000 miles to the network of federally
funded roads, built and maintained with gas tax dollars. As Federal Highway Ad-
ministrator Rodney Slater recently pointed out, "the heavier the trucks, the more
damage to our already deteriorated road system." In one trip a typical 18-wheeler
causes as much road damage as thousands of cars. Unless the Senate acts to control
maximum truck weights, billions of dollars of highway and bridge investments will
be prematurely destroyed.
A truck length and weight freeze on the NHS has been endorsed by the American
Automobile Association, the American I*ublic Health Association, the Consumer Co-
alition for Health and Safety, the Friends of the Earth, the General Federation of
Women's Clubs, the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Sierra Club, the
United Transportation Union, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
and dozens ol other consumer, safety, medical, labor, and environmental groups.
Along with my statement today, I am submitting a copy of CRASH's testimony
to the House of Representatives on the need for congressional action to freeze truck
size and weight on the National Highway System.
I am asking this committee to help stop the carnage on our nation's highways by
limiting longer and heavier trucks on the National Highway System. These highway
trains are more dangerous and more damaging to our roads. Please protect the safe-
ty of American motorists, for my family, my iriends, my colleagues, and my clients,
and thank you for hearing my concerns.
Prepared Statement of Joan Cij\ybk(X)k, Cocilaik, Citizens k)k Reliable anh
Sake Highways (CRASH) and President, I*ublic Citizen