A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council hears long-distance plea on trucks

Written November 21st, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Trucks heading north on I-5 in Oregon on Nov. 10. Some in industry want bigger trucks.

In an unusual move, the Albany City Council Wednesday listened to a disembodied voice on the telephone asking it to oppose bigger trucks on the nation’s roads.

The voice belonged to somebody named Josh Collins, and if I heard right he was phoning on behalf of an outfit calling itself the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks. The city staff evidently had arranged for him to make his pitch without having to show up in person during an agenda segment called “business from the public.”

What he wanted was for the council to send a letter to Congress opposing, on the grounds of promoting highway safety and preventing damage to roads and bridges, proposals in Congress to allow longer or heavier trucks. The council had copies of such letters from the mayors of Beaverton and Salem.

As the voice went on and on, for maybe 10 minutes, the council silently listened and, in the end, took no action. Councilor Rich Kellum suggested looking into the issue.

Various changes proposed in Congress over the last few years would allow trucks to weigh up to 97,000 pounds, up from 80,000 pounds, and to be longer as well.

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-4th District, whose district includes most of Albany, is chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s already had letters on the truck issue from others, including a group calling itself Americans for Modern Transportation.

This group is pushing for Congress to allow raising the maximum length of twin double trailers from 28 to 33 feet. This, they said in a letter to the secretary of tranportation, would “immediately improve the efficiency and safety of truck operations across the nation’s congested freight network.”

Taxpayers and travelers would benefit, AMT said, because longer trailers are more stable and less likely to roll over, reduce congestion and the number of crashes, and create more capacity while maintaining current federal weight restrictions.

Whether the council will take this up, who knows? But they might, considering how hard it is for drivers of big semi-trucks of currently legal size to negotiate some of Albany’s tight corners and narrow streets. (hh)

Councilors and other officials listen to a long-distance plea against longer and heavier trucks Wednesday. (Councilor Bessie Johnson sits just outside the frame on the right.)






11 responses to “Council hears long-distance plea on trucks”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    A couple of questions:

    1. What is the council’s policy on taking phone calls during “business from the public”? If I were to call in and complain about CARA, would the council take my call and listen attentively for 10 minutes?

    2. The law that would allow changes to trucks is federal, not local. The law would impact movements over interstate roadways. This doesn’t mean bigger, heavier trucks can travel throughout a state, including cities like Albany. State law regulates these movements. Shouldn’t the council direct their concerns, if there are any, to Salem and not Washington DC?

  2. Rich Kellum says:

    I was the one who asked the Mayor to end his speech. We have never before taken business from the public from a phone and I would not be in favor of doing it in the future, there will be conversation about that.
    When he was at last cut off, I suggested that we “take it under advisement” which essentially ends the conversation unless someone is passionate about it. I know that much of the Council and many in the audience were feeling abused at that point..

  3. Terry says:

    What BS!
    Can’t the city council find anything to do without taking robo calls during a meeting.
    Do the city’s work for god sake!

    • Hasso Hering says:

      It certainly wasn’t a robo-call. And the mayor told me she knew nothing about this ahead of time, and when she tried to interrupt the caller, he didn’t react. Eventually it was the city manager who asked the guy to get to the end.

      • Ted Salmons says:

        Every phone I’ve ever used in my life had a function that allows you to interrupt a person that won’t shut up. It’s called “hanging up”. Apparently the Mayor wasn’t too serious about ending his tirade.

  4. Julie Warren says:

    How do these idiots think they get stuff to the stores or markets? Not even coming by train works they still need trucks to get stuff off trains. It is the livliehood of the drivers most people need to pay attention to trucks on the road and stp causing accidents!!

  5. Delfina H Hoxie says:

    Please write the letter. My husband was a trucker and believes that more weight is more dangerous and that it would further ruin our interstate roads and cause more accidents. Rollovers would be more common. This is about companies wanting to be able to carry more product so that can make money faster. I call it greed.

  6. HowlingCicada says:

    A bit off-topic, but here’s an idea for trucking safety.

    Equip trucks with all the cameras, radar, and computation needed for self-driving. Instead of actually controlling the truck, record every interaction between the driver, truck, and surrounding environment. Also, give an alarm if needed, and notify the trucking company if the driver is showing signs of being too fatigued to continue safely.

    One purpose is to shift safety enforcement from the current regime of unlucky punitive gotcha’s to a better system of evaluation with the goal of retaining good drivers and repurposing bad ones. With the inevitability of self-driving trucks (at least on freeways), the need for drivers will diminish over time; let’s keep the best ones. Doing something like this could be a requirement for heavier or longer trucks.

    Personally intrusive? Probably, but no worse than, let’s say, drug testing.

  7. hj.anony1 says:

    Will our great city be posting the Call-In number soon?

  8. Rachel La Brasseur says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that this truck issue is at odd timing? As in didn’t the city just purchase the old papermill site at an incredibly low price? To build a giant transit shipping something or rather, to in order to “drastically reduce semis on I-5”?(I honestly don’t know the details, so correct me please if I’m wrong)


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