A pilot program allowing road trains on North Dakota highways has been approved despite fears surrounding safety and damage to roadways.
The pilot program was endorsed by the House Transportation Committee, and urges Congress to amend length and weight restrictions on North Dakota’s Interstate 94 and Interstate 29, as the extra long semi trucks will exceed federal length and width limits, reported The Telegraph.
North Dakota’s road trains are expected to be three trailers, around 200 feet long, and 360,000 pounds. They will also be prohibited from transporting hazardous materials.
Supporters of the bill say it addresses growing concerns surrounding the truck driver shortage, as well as the increasing need for cargo transportation as e-commerce continues to grow.
“The reality is we need to be able to move more freight with less people,” said Matt Gardner, North Dakota Motor Carriers Association lobbyist.
Opponents of the bill say they are concerned about the effect the road trains will have on driving safety for motorists and other truck drivers, as well as the potentially damaging effect on North Dakota roadways.
President of the North Dakota AFL-CIO, Landis Larson, argued that the road trains will put “unnecessary strain on an already underfunded and crumbling infrastructure.”
The North Dakota Department of Transportation has not formally taken a stance on the bill, but the Operations director has since pointed out that there is currently no licensing system in place for road train drivers.