“Sixth-Axle” Bill Allows 94K GVW

SB 616 passed the Legislature and awaits the Governors signature.  This will allow all raw and processed wood-hauling trucks in WV to increase their gross vehicular weight to 94,000 (from the current effective weight of 88,0000), if a sixth axle is added; with certain specific tractor/trailer configurations.  WVFA, the Forest Resources Association, the American Loggers Association, WVU, and numerous sectors of the WV forest products industry worked with the state Division of Highways to craft a bill that was a compromise approach to this success.  The audition of the sixth axle is not  mandatory; i.e., it is voluntary and, as Danny Dructor – Executive Director of the American Loggers Council put it, “Its a business decision” as to whether trucking outfits may wish to take advantage of this option.

We don’t believe that any of the organizations involved believe that this is a solution to industry truck-weight issues.  But, conversely, we think that it is safe to say that all believe that this is a step in the correct direction.  A particularly germane section of the new law reads (the permitting mentioned is an existing system, which is applied to “overweight” vehicles):

“…The Commissioner of Highways may, in his or her discretion, upon application in writing, issue a special permit in writing authorizing the applicant to transport logs, wood chips, timber, other natural raw wood, lumber, paper, wood veneer, wood pellets, or any other wood product of the forest, craft, or manufacturing. The vehicle authorized by the permit shall be a tractor-semitrailer combination with six axles, each axle equipped with brakes, and limited to a maximum gross vehicular weight of 94,000 pounds, without any tolerance. The maximum weight of each axle, beginning with the steering axle commencing rearwards, respectively shall be 15,000 pounds, 17,000 pounds, 17,000 pounds, 15,000 pounds, 15,000 pounds, and 15,000 pounds. The tractor shall have one steer axle and two drive axles in tandem, and the trailer shall have three trailer axles in tridem. The distance between the last drive axle of the tractor and the first trailer axle shall be a minimum of 29 feet and six inches. Permits under this subdivision will not be issued for any vehicle traveling on interstate routes…”